Skip to main content


See other formats








Sixth Revised Edition 

J. P. Naik 
Syed Nurullah 1 



PbONA 1: 

— — — — 

© By the . executors of the estate of Syed Nurullah, 
J P Naik, 1974 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication ma; 
reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any mi 
without permission. 

First Edition 1945 
Second Edition 1949 
Whird Edition 1951 
Reprinted 1955 1956 
Mtirth Edition 1962 
fifth Edition 1964 
Reprinted 1970 1971 
Sixth Edition 1974 

The Macmillan Company of India Limited 
Delhi Bombay Calcutta Madras 
Associated companies throughout the world 

SBN : 33390 076 6" 

Published by 

S G Wasani for The Macmillan Company of India Limite 
and printed at Bharat Mudranalaya, Shahdara, Delhi 


The object of this book is to narrate, in broad outline, the main 
educational developments in India during the modern, period of 
its history which begins in about 1765. The first edition of this 
book dealt with historical developments only up to the attainment 
of Independence in 1947. This revised edition brings the story to 
the end of the Fourth Five Y ear Plan a nd also indicates the broad 
lines on which .einpatteraJLJB^^ • be '' 

attempted during the Fifth Plan period. 

The book does not attempt to trace the history of individual 
movements such as the Arya Samaj movement among the Hindus, 
or the Aligarh movement among the Muslims. Neither does it 
deal with the history of education in each individual Province or 
in the Indian States. But, subject to these limitations, if attempts 
to give a full and comprehensive review of each critical stage in 
the modern educational history of India, to explain the raison 
d’etre of each important decision and the consequences thereof, 

and to show how the present educational system has gradually 

come to be built up. The review is so designed as to assist, not 
only in understanding the present, but also in pointing out the 
main lines of future reform and reo r g an isation. 

One special feature of this study may be pointed out here. 
The reader will notice that the book is interspersed with a large 
number of quotations. These have been included for several 
reasons. Some are included because their original sources are 
now out of print and inaccessible to the average student; some 
others are included with a view to introducing the reader to the 
vast amount of literature in original documents that is available 
on the subject; but many have been included because they help to 
portray vividly the conflicts of a bygone day and the ideals that 
inspired the fighters on either side. For, in an historical drama 

vi A studbntV history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

of this type, it is always a great advantage to give full freedom to 
the actors to speak for themselves. 

J. P. Naik 

New Delhi 
August 1974 


/The history of the evolution of the modern system of education in 
India may be likened to a great drama. ] 

The setting for this play is provided not only by the social, 
j political, and constitutional history of India, but also by the 
j social, political, and educational developments in contemporary 
England. Several Indian institutions were planned on the lines of 
similar institutions in England; often the controversies in English 
education, and, oftener still, a change in the educational policy 
of England had its echoes in Indian education, sooner or later. 
Any attempt to Understand Indian educational policy divorced 
from this background is like trying to understand an effect 
without knowing the cause. An effort has, therefore, been made 
in this book to present this setting as clearly as possible and to 
correlate it to the various stages of the educational advance of 

j The conflict of the drama lies in the struggle betweerj the old and 
Vthe new, between the effort— however well-intentioned it might 
have been— by non-Indians to impose a cheap imitation of the 
British educational system on India and the desire of the people 
of the country to create a new system to meet their own peculiar 
needs and problems. (In the early part of the nineteenth century, 
the indigenous system of education held the field.) Soon after- 
wards, missionaries began to spread Western knowledge and to 
encourage the study of the English language and literature. They 
were joined by officials of the Government and a few enlightened 
Indians who were either educated under the new system or valued 
its advantages, and, through the combined efforts of these three 
sets of workers, the modern educational system saw the light of 
day. It thrived quickly for several reasons: To begin with, the 
British people of the Victorian era complacently believed that their 
language, literature, and educational methods were the best in the 





world and that India could do no better than adopt them in toto. 
Secondly the Indians of this period, on their part, were dazzled 
by their first contact with Western Civilization and believed that 
their country could do no better than imitate the British model; 
and, thirdly, the system attained an artificial popularity and impor- 
ance ecause t e young men and women educated under it were 
ree y emp oyed m Government service. By the end of the nine- 
een cen ury, therefore, the old indigenous system of education 
disappeared almost completely and a new system of education, t 
w lc aimed at the spread of Western , knowledge through the 
medium of English language, was firmly established in its place. 

But a reaction soon set in. The sudden and great rise of other 
nations, such as Japan, especially after the Russo-Japanese War, 
exercised a profound influence on Indian public opinion, and 
ma e people look askance at the slow and unsatisfactory deve- ^ 
opment of Indian education; a new spirit was gaining ground 
and, unlike the men of the earlier era, the Indians of the twentieth 
century began to stu with reverence the cultural history of their 
own land. The Gr a- War of 1914-18 revealed to the world that 
there was something radically wrong with the civilization of the 
West and made people sceptical about the utility of the wholesale 
imitation of Western models. 'The net result was that Indians 
gave up the attempt to imitate England in toto, and began to 
consider the creation of a new system of education more suited to 
their needs. Some of their attempts, such as the Visva-Bharati or 
the Jamia-Millia, worked outside the official system, while others, 
like the Banaras and Aligarh Universities, worked wi thin it. A 
characteristic common to both, however, was the desire to create 
rather than to imitate. An attempt has been made in this book 
to show the various aspects of this conflict and to trace its history. 

The actors in this drama may be divided into three groups— the 
missionaries, the European officials of the Education Department, 
and the Indian people. To the missionaries belongs the honour 
of being pioneers in the modern educational system of India and ( 
even today they are doing some pioneer work in several branches 
of socml service that have not yet attracted Indian workers on a 
sufficiently large scale. The European officials of the Education 
Department came upon the scene in 1855 and dominated the 
whole educational field until very recently. The Indian people 

themselves were the last to enter the stage. They began, in the 
early nineteenth century, by collecting funds for the establishment 
of ‘modern’ educational institutions, and, later on, undertook to 
direct and conduct them. In the closing decades of the ninetee nth 
century, they demanded Indianizatio n of the educational services . 
BuTTHe political outlook soon widened and the demand for the 
power to control and direct educational policies was next put for- 
ward — a demand that was partly fulfilled in 1921, more completely 
in 1937 and absolutely in 1947. At the present moment, the who le 
field of educati onal activity is almost Indianized. The missionary 
societies are transferring their institutions to Indian Christians; 
the recruitment to the Indian Educational Service was stopped a 
long time ago an d all th e o fficia ls of the Educ ation Department 
are now I ndians ; the bulk of the educational institutions are con- 
trolled by private Indian enterprise; and a national Government, 
at the Centre with autonomous ministries in the federating States, 
havs the power to lay down educational policy. The story of this 
great revolution forms an important part of the history of Indian 
education as presented in this book. 

The dr ama is divided into ijdx Acts. 

The first act of the drama opens about the beginning of the 
eighteenth century and closes with the Charter Act of 1813. 
Although the East India Company was established as early as 
a.d. 1600 it undertook no educational activities for nearly one 
hundred years of its existence. Its attention was first drawn to 
educational matters by the Charter Act of 1698 which required it 
to maintain priests and schools in its garrisons; but even these 
provisions were meant more for the children of the Company’s 
European servants than for the Indian people. There is no need, 
however, to be surprised at this unwillingness of the Company to 
undertake the responsibility of educating Indians. It was main ly 
a trading concern and a body of merchants cannot be expected to 
educat£ffie^o^e it trades with. 

^Circumstances altered considerably by the middle of the 
eighteenth century. The Company had, by this time, emerged 
successful from the struggle with its European competitors — the 
Portuguese, the Dutch, and the French — and the grant of the 
Diwani in 1765 made it a major power in India. It was only then 
that the Company was called upon to encourage education among 


its subject a ® the earlier Hindu and Muslim rulers had done. But 
the Court °f Directors naturally drew their inspiration from 
English m^ de, s rather than from Hindu or Muslim traditions and, 
as Parliament itself did nothing to educate the English people, the 
Company also refused to recognise any obligation on its part for 
the education of Indians. 

The conflict of this Act, therefore, centred mainly round two 
issues. Firstly, there was a conflict between the unwillingness of 
the Directors of the Company to accept responsibility for the 
education of the Indians, and the agitation of their officers in 
India, mainly 0 n grounds of political exigency, to persuade them 
to accept it. Secondly, there also arose a conflict between the 
desire of the missionaries to go to India to spread Christianity and 
t e unwillingness of the Court of Directors to admit them to their 
territories for fear that their proselytizing activities might arouse 
he opposition of the people. It was only after a prolonged agita- 
lon that the Company was compelled, by the Charter Act of 
i » u, to accept responsibility for the education of Indians, to 
incur some expenditure for the fulfilment of this object, and to 
a nait missionaries to its dominions for spreading Western ‘light 
and knowledge’. This was the beginning of the State system of 
education in India under the British rule. 

act of the drama opens in 1813 and closes with 

It is mainly a period of 
c ontrove«i^ and experiments. 

The conflict of this act lies between two schools of thought, 
une ot these, which was represented by Macaulay, believed in the 
substitution of Western culture for the Indian and desired to 
create a class of persons who would be ‘Indians in blood and 
ED8,ish in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intel- 
lect . This school consisted mostiy of the missionaries whose 
main aim was that of proselytization, and of the younger servants 
ot the Company who were brought up in the traditions of the 
.. 0m f? tlc _f evival and were consequently impatient to sweep out 
he oid and to sweep in the new. The other school believed in a 
synthesis of the Eastern and Western cultures. It consisted of the 
older servants of the Company who were brought up in the tradi- 
10 ns of Hastings and Minto and most of the Indians who took an 
interest in education. Unfortunately, this party was divided with- 



in itself. One section, which held the field in Bengal, believed ? 
such a synthesis could be brought about by spreading Western • 
science and knowledge through the medium of tabu classical 
languages, while the other section, which held the field m Bombay, 
believed that the best method of bringing about a synthesis lay ml c 
spreading Western science and knowledge through the spoeal^ 
languages of the people, enriched by a study of the Indian dassi-f 

^These* fundamental issues were greatly confused in the contro- 
versies of this period and ‘the confusion became worse confounded 
by the failure to distinguish English as a medium from English as 
a subject of instruction’. Violent controversies, therefore, ranged 
round the following four topics: 

(1) What should be the object of the educational policy— to 
spread Western knowledge or to preserve Eastern 

learning? . ,. , 

(2) What should be the medium of instruction— English, ? 

Sanskrit or Arabic, or the modem Indian languages? 

(3) What should be the agency for the spread of education— 
the mission schools, the institutions directly controlled 
by the Company, or the indigenous schools conducted 
by Indians themselves? 

(4) What should be the method of spreading education- 
should the Government try to educate the masses directly, 

or should it only educate a few Indians and leave it to 

them to educate the others? 

The Despatch of 1854 set these conflicts at rest for the time 
being by declaring that the main object of the Educational system 
was to spread Western knowledge and science, although it was 
desirable to grant some encouragement to Oriental learning at the 
collegiate stage; that both English and the spoken languages o 
the people should be used as media of instruction at the secon ary 
state; that as the Government could never have the funds to 
provide for all the educational needs of the country, the bulk of 
its educational institutions would have to be organized by private 
bodies — whether missionary or Indian; and that the efforts of the 
Government should cease to be directed to the education of the 


few and that the education of the masses should, in future, be 
regarded as a duty of the State. With the receipt of this important 
document of educational history, the curtain falls upon the second 
act of the drama. 

The third act opens in 1854 and closes about 1900. It is a 
period of the rapid Westernization of the educational system but 
of the Indianization of its agencies. 

This act has two conflicts. The major conflict arose between 
the indigenous system of education on the one hand and the new 
system created by Wood’s Education Despatch on the other. It 
was at first hoped that such a conflict would not arise and that 
indigenous schools would be wisely encouraged and incorporated 
in the official system of education. But, for several reasons, these, 
hopes did not materialize; The officials of those days generally 
neglected these institutions out of utter contempt; in some 
instances, attempts at improvement were made which, though well- 
meant, were so ill-advised as to lead rather to destruction than to 
improvement; in several cases, pressure was brought upon parents 
to withdraw their children from indigenous schools and to send 
them to the departmental ones. 1 These errors of commission and 
omission, combined with the patronage that was extended to the 
new system by the free employment of persons trained in it in 
Government service, led to the almost complete extinction of the 
indigenous system of education; and, by 1900, practically all the 
institutions of higher education used English as the medium of in- 
struction and aimed at the spread of Western knowledge andscience. 

The minor conflict of this act arose between the agencies that 
undertook the spread of Western education in India. In 1844, 
this task had been mostly assumed by Europeans who came to 
India either as missionaries or as servants of the Company — 
Indians educated in the Western system were neither available in 
large numbers nor were they considered to be fit to conduct 
English schools or colleges. Hence, Indian educational efforts 
were mostly limited to the collection of funds and to the conduct- 
ing of schools and colleges under European headmasters or 
principals requisitioned from abroad. 

In 1880, however, circumstances were considerably altered and 

1 Sir Philip Hartog, Some Aspects of Indian Education 9 Past and Present , 
p. 105. 


three different agencies for the spread of education grew up and 
began to compete for supremacy. The first of these was the 
a!Scy of the mission schools and colleges; the second was that of 
the educational institutions organized by the Education Depart- 
ments and the third was the small beginning of the private effort 
of Indians themselves. The Indian Education Commission was 
called upon to weigh the relative merits of each of these agencies 
and to decide upon the best mode of spreading education m 
India It opined that missionary enterprise could only occupy a 

subordinate place in Indian education; that departmental institu- 

tions were too costly to be multiplied; that it would be in the 
best interests of a poor country like India to close them or 
transfer them to private enterprise; and that the efforts of the 

Government should be mainly directed to the encouragement of 

private Indian enterprise as the best means of spreading educa- 

tion in India. , . 

These recommendations were generally acted upon by the 
provincial Governments, and the twenty years between 1880 and 
1900 saw such a great development of private schools and colleges 
conducted by Indians that in 1901-1902, Indian private enterprise, 
was the most important agency for spreading Western educa ion 

aS The fourthacfopens in 1901 with the conference of the Directors 
of Public Instruction convened by Lord Curzon at Simla an 
closes in 1921 with the transfer of education to the control o 

Indian Ministers. . . - 

The twenty years between 1901 and 1921 were a perio 
intense and ever-increasing political unrest in India. Ihe 
Bengal Partition Movement, the Morley-Minto Reforms the 
World War, the Non-Cooperation Movement, and such other 
events, led to a great political awakening and discontent and it is 
out of these major political conflicts that the educational conflicts 

of the period saw the light of day. . , . 

Secondly, it has to be noted ffiat, -during this period both 
Indian and European educationists were greatly issatis e ^i 
the educational system. One section of thinkers t e o cia s 
mostly belonged to this — believed that the quality o e uca ion 
had materially deteriorated since 1880; that schools and colleges 
under private management had generally been unable to mam am 




discipline; that educated Indians had been unable to digest an 
exotic culture; that the ideal of spreading Western knowledge and 
science had outlived its utility; and that the educational system 
ought to aim at training men and women of character and be 
replanned accordingly. This class of educationists attributed 
most of these defects to the policy of expansion and laissez faire 
to private enterprise which had been pursued since the report of 
the Indian Education Commission, and recommended that the 
Government should now aim at controlling and improving 
schools and colleges rather th|n at increasing their number. 

The other school of thinkers — which included most of the 
enlightened Indians — still believed in the wisdom of the policy 
recommended by the Indian Educatipn Commission. They were 
not unwilling to concede that education had deteriorated; but 
to them quality was not everything. They felt that the spread 
of Western knowledge was essential for creating a renaissance 
in Indian national life and advocated a very rapid expansion of 
higher education on a voluntary basis and the introduction of 
compulsory elementary education for the masses. This school 
of thinkers argued that private enterprise ought to be given full 
freedom to grow and that a policy of control and improvement 
would be suicidal to the best interests of the country. 

It was the conflict between these two widely different schools 
of thought that makes up the fourth act of this great drama. 
The conflict began first at the University stare. Battles royal 
were fought over the Indian Universities Commission of 1902 and 
the Indian Universities Act of 1904, and resulted in an almost 
complete victory for the protagonists of the theory of control and 
improvement of quality. The conflict then spread to the secondary 
stage and again this party obtained a great victory when the 
revised grant-in-aid codes were framed between 1904 and 1908. 
Lastly, the conflict reached the primary stage and an intensive 
struggle arose over Gokhale’s bill for introducing compulsory 
elementary education. The party won for the third time and the 
bill was thrown out by a large majority. As may be easily anti- 
cipated, however, these ‘victories* led to considerable embitterment 
of public feeling and Indian nationalist opinion began to demand 
the power to control the educational policy of the country. It 
was to satisfy this demand that the Department of Education was 


transferred to the control of Indian Ministers in 1921. 

The fifth act of this drama opens in 1921 and closes in 1937 
when the Government of India Act of 1935 introduced Provincial 
Autonomy in eleven provinces of British India. It is a period of 
the first experiments under Indian control. 

A burst of enthusiasm, the transfer of education to Indian 
control, and many long-desired changes marked the opening of 
this act. The political conflicts of the earlier period ceased to 
exist; all further recruitment to the Indian Educational Service 
was discontinued, power being given to each province to organize 
its own educational services; and the control and supervision 
which the Government of India used to exercise over the details 
of administration came to an end. Consequently, the Provincial 
Governments had much greater freedom to plan programmes of 
educational expansion and improvements, and the earlier part of 
this period thus witnessed the undertaking of several new schemes, 
the sanctioning of increased grants to education, and a rapid 
increase in the enrolment of scholars. 

Unfortunately, however,\ a number of serious difficulties soon 
presented themselves and darkened the horizon. The financial 
arrangements introduced by the Government of India Act, 1919, 
enriched the Central Government at the cost of Provincial 
Governments; the special grants to education which were liberally 
sanctioned by the Government of India in the period 1901 to 1921 
were suddenly discontinued and the situation was made almost 
desperate by the worldwide economic depression which affected 
the major portion of this period. Consequently, most of the new 
schemes undertaken had to be given up and drastic retrenchment 
had to be made even in the existing expenditure on education. 

These financial difficulties gave' a great set-back to the enthu- 
siasm with which this ad opened. A still greater set-back, however, 
was given by the ideological conflicts that arose in this period. 
One school of thought advocated that India should concentrate 
on quality and consolidate one position before another was 
attacked. The other school advocated a rapid expansion of 
education and a planned and determined attempt to liquidate 
mass illiteracy. These conflicts, which, as we have seen above, 
had really begun in the earlier period, came to a head with the 
report of the Hartog Committee in 1929 and were in full swing 


when the Act came to an end in 1 937. 

With the introduction of Provincial Autonomy and the assump- 
tion of office by the Congress in seven Provinces out of eleven, 
a new page was turned in the history of India and the sixth act of 
the drama began. The three years between 1937 and 1940 formed 
an extremely crowded period in Indian educational history. Even 
during this short period, larger funds for education were made 
available; schemes for the expansion of primary education, the 
introduction of compulsion, and the liquidation of adult iliteracy 
were undertaken; the W ardha Scheme of education was introduced; 
and a great fillip was given to physical and vocational education. 
But, unfortunately, this great experiment came to a sudden end 
when the Second World War broke out and the Congress 
Ministries resigned and interim administrations under Section 93 
of the Government of India Act, 1 935, were set up in their stead. 
The five years (1940-45) of the Caretaker Governments were, 
therefore, mainly a period of marking time when no new educa- 
tional schemes were undertaken, but an attempt was made to 
maintain, as far as possible, the work started by the Congress 
Ministries between 1937 and 1940. The one great achievement of 
this period, however, was the preparation, by the Central Advisory 
Board of Education, of a plan of Post-War Educational Develop- 
ment in India which was estimated to cost Rs. 300 crores and 
which intended to make India reach, at the end of 40 years, the- 
stage of educational progress which had already been attained in 
countries like England and the U.S.A. In 1947, the Congress 
Ministries came back and resumgd^ their work of educational 
extension and reform. But the next two years were dominated 
by an intense political agitation which left little time for educa- 
tional reconstruction and, before any substantial progress could 
be recorded, the British withdrew from India on 15 August 1947, 
and the British period in Indian educational history came to a 


Preface v 

Introduction vii 


I Indigenous Education in India at the Beginning 
of the Nineteenth Century 

II The East India Company Accepts Responsibility for 
the Education of Indians (1600-1813) 

III Official Experiments in Education (1813-1853) 

IV Non-Official Enterprise in Education (1813-1853) 
and Wood’s Education Despatch (1854) 

V The Victorian Era (I) (1854-1902) 

VI The Victorian Era (II) (1854-1902) 

VII Lord Curzon (1898-1905) 

VIII A Period of Transition (1905-1921) 

IX Education under Diarchy (1921-1937) 

X Education under Provincial Autonomy (1937-1947) 

XI Education in India Durinrg r the British Period— 

A Retrospect 

PERIOD (1947-1973) 

XII Educational Developments to the End of the Fourth 421 
Five Year Plan (1947-1973) 


Main Recommendations of the Education Commis- 
sion (1964-66) 488 












Education in the British Period 


Chapter Onb 

Indigenous Education in India at the Beginning 
of the Nineteenth Century 

Introductory: The principal object of this book is to trace the 
growth of the modern system of educationjwhich came to be 
established in India during the British Period in supersession of 
the traditional indigenous system of education whicKad develop- 
ed in the country through centuries past. It is a common belief, 
particularly among many Western scholars, that this indigenous 
system of education had hardly anything of valueTnit; that it was 
better dead than alive; and that the British officers of the 
Education Department were fully justified in allowing or even 
helping it to die and in replacing it by the modern system of 
schools, colleges and universities. It is an essential part of the 
work of those who undertake to write the history of education in 
India to find out whether, and if so, how far such a belief is 
justified. We, therefore, propose to discuss, in this initial chapter, 
the character and extent of the indigenous system of education as 
itjprevailed in India at the beginninjg of the nineteenth century 
(when the British Government may be said to have begun laying 
the foundation of the modern system of education), its merits and 
de meri ts and its potentialities to develop into a national system 
of education by suitable improvement and extension. 

It must be remembered that the I ndian so ciety at the end of the 
eighteenth century was essentially a feudal. society consisting of 
several classes and a very large number of castes and tribes. The 
princely governments of the day had not accepted any responsi- 
bility for the education of the people and all their educational 
effort was limited to the provision of some financial support to 
learned persons and institutions of higher learning, mainly on 
religious considerations. The society itself had little use for a 


' for “ al SyStC “ ° f education -^''estly classes who formed a very 
small m,nori ty needed formal institutions for religious instruction 
and therefore created and maintained them through their own 
efforts, with such support from the princes and the people as they 
could muster,/ The small class of government servants, merchants! 
money-lenders and the more well-to-do landlords also did need 
some elementary education in three R’s and they organised for 

lf so m hl VeS iVTu^T needed for the purpose} These could 
a so be availed of by others if they so desired. The bulk of the 

tuSTh —"I to forinal cdu(Mtionar"insti- 

^ns The^ipiUmeMg ° f their education were non-formal. 
w hat they needed most was vocational education and they 
generally obtained it by working at the family occupation. The 
women, as a rule, never went to schools. They learnt the art of 
home making, child rearing and participating (where necessary) 
in the family occupation, through an apprenticeship to their 
mothers and other elderly women in the family. The absence 

T- 3 r fo - r ^ a ’ of educatio ^ for the vast majority SfTEe peo- 

ple has often led foreigners to regard the Indian people of the dav 
^orant and uncultured. This is totally incorrect. The 
absence of the formal system of education or his illiteracy did not 
prevent the average Indian from absorbing his traditional cul- 
ture through non-formal agencies at home and in society and 
sympathetic observers of this period who came in close contact 
with the people did not fail to notice their vocational skills of 
very high order, their basic human qualities and their fascinating 
and lovable culture. What we will be discussing in this chapter 
however, is not the non-formal methods of instruction at home 
and in society which trained every person in /his vocation, initiate 
him m the traditional culture and socialised him as a useful and 
responsible member of his family and the community, but the 
formal system of education, elementary and higher, which was / 
meant for a small sector of the society which needed it and " 
which was availed of mostly by men. It is necessary to remember 
this deliberately limited scope of our discussion so that one does 
not assume that the small formal process of education was all the 
education the people received and ignore the existence and signi- 
ficance of the vastly greater processes of non-formal education 
which were current in this society and which were really responsi- j 



big for giving the most worthwhile education to the vast majority 
of the people. 

Sources of Information: It is unfortunate that the sources of infor- 
mation regarding the character _and extent of the indigenous 
svstem of education tolhe earlier half of the nineteenth century 
should be extremely meagre. In the first place, the available 
sources refer only to British territories which, at that time, formed 
but a small part of India, and we have next to no data regarding 
the vast remaining area which was under the rule of several Indian 
potentates. Secondly, our sources do not cover even the whole 
of that area which was then under British rule. In Madras, an 
inquiry into indigenous education was ordered by Sir Thomas * 
Munro in 1822 and the information obtained refers to all districts 
except that of Kanara. In Bombay, a similar enquiry was 
ordered by Mountstuart Elphinstone in 1823 and statistics were • 
obtained through the Collectors for most of the Province while, in 
1829, similar statistics for the Province as a whole were collected 
through the Judicial Department. In Bengal, a special enquiry 
into indigenous education was conducted in 1835-38, under the 
orders of Lord William Bentinck, by William Adam— a mission- • 
ary who had devoted himself to the cause of Indian education. 
Adam submitted three reports of which the first is a digest of the 
earlier reports on the subject, the second is a thorough enquiry of 
one Thana in the district of Rajshahi and the third gives statistics 
of five districts in Bengal and Bihar out of a total of nineteen. It 
will thus be seen that any conclusions regarding the indigenous 
system of education in India, as a whole, must be based on the 
assumption that the area covered by the three enquiries referred to 
above is a fair sample of the whole countryside. Such an assump- 
tion is obviously not very sound from the statistical point of view; 
but it becomes inevitable in the absence of any other data. 

What handicaps a student of history, however, is not so much 
the inadequacy of the area covered by these enquiries as their 
defects from the statistical or other points of view. The enquiries 
in Madras and Bombay were most unsatisfactory in so far as 
accuracy and thoroughness are concerned and it will be shown 
later that they included neither ..n//. the schools in existence nor all 
the pupils under instruction. Adam’s enquiries, on the other 


• B “' 

for a very long time and there' ^“yST'o? T™' 

cation, as Adam himself pointed out of indigenous edu- 

of decay. The conclusions of Adam ihZtfoTfr' t “ * St3te 

• cable to those parts of India which’had the Boo/f” 0 / qU ‘ te 3Pph ' 

fair picture of the indigenous tys'em lfJ^ D f " “ 

Ihe beginning of the nineteenth century. “ 

ra, fts resnits were thus £% *" “** 

2nd July ^l°^ 3evenue , were directed by Government on the 
2nd July, 1822, to ascertain the number of schools and tZ*Z 

of education among the natives in the provinces and tith !h • 

amonnts to 12,498, and the population to 1 2,850 94™ ,, Z, 
school to every 500 of the population ’ «>' r ' ck ™ one 

greater than is here estimated; for ifmetlke ttollST 1 " m “ Ch 
hon as stated in the report at 1,285,000 and deduct on'e-WIMm 
females, the remaining male population will be 6 %s W0 L it 

»zz; t: J 

boyS SSct'ofM IS ^ * 

XSTiXTS S e °T r ££££<&£ 

y '84,110, or little more than one-fourth of that number. I 


have taken the interval between five and ten years of age as the 
term of education, because, though many boys continue at school 
till twelve or fourteen, many leave it under ten. 7 am, however, 
inclined to estimate the portion of the male population who receive 
school education to be nearer to one-third than one-fourth of the * 
whole, because we have no returns from the provinces of the number 
taught at home. 1 InMadras a the number taught at home is 26,903, 
or above five times greater than that taught in the schools. There 
is probably some error in this number, and though the number 
privately taught in the provinces does certainly not approach this 
rate, it is no doubt considerable because the practice of boys being 
taught at home by their relations or private teachers is not infre- 
quent in any part of the country. The proportion educated is very 
different in different .classes; in some it is nearly the whole; in 
others it is hardly one-tenth. 

3. The state of education here exhibited, low as it is compared 
with that of our own country, is higher than it was in most European 
countries at no very distant period. 1 It has, no doubt, been better 
in earlier times. 3 

Report of the Collector of Bellary: Of the reports of the Collec- 
tors, the most interesting is that of the Collector of Bellary. It 
deserves to be quoted in extenso for the following graphic picture 
of the elementary indigenous schools of those days. 

6. The education of the Hindoo youths generally commences 
when they are five years old; on reaching this age, the master and 
scholars of the school to which the boy is to be sent, are invited 
to the house of his parents, the whole are seated in a circle round 
an image of Gunasee and the child to be initiated is placed exactly 
opposite to it. The schoolmaster sitting by his side, after having ' 
burnt incense and presented offerings, causes the child to repeat a 
prayer to Gunasee, entreating wisdom. He then guides the child 
to write with its finger in rice the mystic name of the deity, and is 
dismissed with a present from the parents according to their 
ability. The child next morning commences the great work of his 

1 Italics ours. 

8 The word ‘Madras’ refers to the City of Madras and not to the Province 
of Madras. Vide Sir Philip Hartog : Some Aspects of Indian Education, p. 72. 

3 Selections from the Records of the Government of Madras, No. II, 
Appendix E. 



education. . , fc 

7. Some children continue at school only five years; the parents, 

through poverty or other circumstances, being often ° ° 

take them away; and consequently in such cases the 
smattering of an education is obtained; where parents can affor 
it and take a lively interest in the culture of their children s 
mind, they not infrequently continue at school as long as 14 

° r 8 15, The internal routine of duty for each day will be found, with 
very few exceptions and little variation, the same in a 
schools. The hour generally for opening school is six o do«k,fltt 
first child that enters has the name of Saraswatee, or the goddess 
of learning, written upon the palm of his hand as a sign of 
honour ; and on the hand of the second a cypher is written to 
show that he is worthy neither of praise nor censure; the third 
scholar receives a gentle stripe; the fourt two, a “ 
succeeding scholar that comes an additional one. The custom 
well as the punishment in native schools, seems of a _ severe 
kind The idle scholar is flogged and often suspended by both 
• hands and a pulley to the roof, or obliged to kneel down and 
rise incessantly, which is a most painful and fatiguing, but 

perhaps a healthy mode of punishment. tft 

9 When the whole are assembled, the scholars, acco g 
their number and attainments, are divided into several Masses, the 
lower ones of which are partly under the care of monitor 
whilst the higher ones are more immediately under the superin- 
tendence of the master, who at the same time has his eye upon 
the whole schook The number of classes is generally four ’ and * 
scholar rises from one to the other according to his capacity and 

progress. The first business of a child on entering school is to 

obtain a knowledge of the letters, which he learns by writing them 
wThis finger on the.ground in sand and 

the alphabet, as among European nations. When he becomes 
pretty dexterous in writing with his finger in sand, hebasthen 
the privilege of writing either with an iroii style on cadjan leaves 
or with a reed on paper, and sometimes on the leaves ;of_ th 
Aristolochia Indica, or with - a kind of pencil on the Hull gi or 
Kadala, which answers the purpose of slates. The two latter in 
these districts are the most common. One of these is a common 


oblong boafd, about a foot in width and three feet in length; this 
board when planed smooth has only to be smeared with a little 
rice and pulverized charcoal, and it is then fit for use. The other 
is made of cloth first stiffened with rice water, doubled into folds 
resembling a book, and it is then covered with a composition of 
charcoal and several gums. The writing on either of these may 
be effaced by a wet cloth the pencil used is called Bultapa, a 
kind of white clay substance, somewhat resembling a crayon, 
with the exception of being rather harder. 

10. Having attained a thorough knowledge of the letters, the 
scholar next learns to write the compounds, or the manner of 
embodying the symbols of the vowels in the consonants and the 
formation of syllables, etc., then the names of men, villages, 
animals, etc., and lastly arithmetical signs. He then commits to 
memory an addition table and counts from one to 100; he after- 
wards writes easy sums in addition and subtraction of money, 
multiplication and the reduction of money, measure, etc. Here 
great pains are taken with the scholar in teaching him the frac- 
tions of an integer, which descend, not by tens as in our decimal # 
fractions, but by fours, and are carried to a great extent. In 
order that these fractions together with the arithmetical tables 
in addition, multiplication and the three-fold measures of 
capacity, weight and extent, may be rendered quite familiar to 
the minds of the scholars, they are made to stand up twice a 
day in rows, and repeat the whole after one of the monitors. 

11. The other parts of native education consist in deciphering 
various kinds of handwriting in public, and other lettters which 
the schoolmaster collects from different sources, writing common 
letters, drawing up forms of agreement, reading fables and legen- 
dary tales and committing various kinds of poetry to memory, 
chiefly with a view to attain distinctness and clearness of 
pronunciation together with readiness and correctness in reading 
any kind of composition. 

16. The economy with which children are taught to write in the 
native schools , and the system by which the most advanced scholars 
are caused to teach the less advanced^ and at the same time to 
confirm their own knowledge 9 is certainly admirable , and well 
deserves the imitation it has' received in England . The chief defects 
in the native schools are the nature of the books and learning 


taught and the want of competent masters. 1 

Reliability of the Enquiry in Madras : The reliability of the 
statistics obtained from this enquiry is generally challenged by 
historians op grounds that are diametrically opposed to each 
other. One view represented by Sir Philip Hartog holds that 
these statistics were overestimated. 2 A closer examination of the 
available data will, however, show that this view is not correct. 
In the first place, the statistics for children under domestic instruc- 
tion were excluded (except for the District of Madras) in the 
figures given by the Collectors. It must be remembered that 
Munro’s original circular did not refer to domestic instruction. 3 

Very possibly, Munro was unaware of its existence at that time. 
It would be obvious to anyone who is conversant with official 
routine that the Collectors did not supply the figures of children 
under domestic instruction, not because it did not exist in their 
district, not even because they were unaware of its existence, but 
because the figures were not explicitly called for in Government 
orders . This is clear from the fact that no Collector except that 
of Madras gave statistics of children under domestic instruction 
although Munro was convinced that “the practice of boys being 
taught at home by their parents or private teachers is not infre- 
quent in any part of the country”. The Collector of Madras 
apparently went out of his way and supplied the figures of pupils 
under domestic instruction also, . even though they were not 
specially called for. It is certainly an ill reward for all this labour 
to class him with Collectors “less careful and interested in 
education than Campbell” as Sir Philip seems to do. 

Secondly, it must be noted that Munro himself was convinced 
that his statistics were underestimates. He calculated the popula- 
tion of school-going age at l/9th of the total population. This 
gave him the number of boys of school-going age at 713,000 and 
he found that only 184,000 or one-fourth were in schools. But he 
felt that sotne allowance must be made for the children under 

1 Selections from the Record of the Government of Madras , No II, Appen- 
dix D. (Italics ours.) 

8 Sir Philip Hartog : Some Aspects of Indian Education , p. 72. 

3 Selections from the Records of the Government of Madras, No. II 
Appendix A. 


domestic instruction. He was not prepared to accept the figures 
given by the Collector of Madras as reliable because he could not 
believe that for every boy in a school there were five under 
domestic instruction. But all the same, he admitted that the 
figures available were underestimates and observed that the 
number of boys under instruction was nearer to one-third than 
to one-fourth of the total number of boys of school-going age. 

Perhaps the best course for Munro would have been to demand 
a rechecking of the Madras figures and to collect statistics of 
children under domestic instruction from other Collectors. But 
he was not interested in the problem. He did not aim at statistical 
accuracy. His only object, as he pointed out in his original 
Minute, was to have some idea of the indigenous system and he 
dropped all further enquiry in the matter as he felt that he had 
enough data to prepare his proposals for educational reform. It 
would be futile to speculate as to what would have been the 
result of a careful enquiry into the system of domestic instruction, 
but there can be no doubt that the available evidence clearly 
points to the conclusion that Munro’s figures were* largely 

The Enquiries in Bombay (1823-25): Shortly after Munro had 
started his enquiry into indigenous education in the Province of 
Madras, Mountstuart Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay, 
started a similar enquiry in the Province of Bombay. At his 
instance, the Secretary to Government addressed a circular letter 
to all Collectors (dated 10th March 1824) and called for 
immediate information regarding indigenous education. The 
replies from most of the Collectors were received in 1 824-25 and 
have been recently published with an erudite editorial note, by 
Shri R. V. Parulekar. 1 These reports do not cover the whole of 
the Province as it then existed; nor can all relevant papers of the 
enquiry be traced at present. But from such data as is available, 
the following general conclusions may be drawn about the then 
condition of indigenous education in the Province of Bombay: 

(a) The Elementary Indigenous Schools: There is no mention 
of a single school which was held in a house exclusively used for 
1 A Source-Book of History of Education in the Bombay Province , Part I, 
Survey of Indigenous Education (1820-30). 




itself. Most of them were held in temples, private dwellings 
or sheds, or the houses of the teachers themselves. In some cases, 
a, respectable gentleman in the town or village gave a portion of 
his house for holding a school. They had hardly any continuity 
and sprang up or vanished according to local demand or its 
absence. The average number of pupils per school worked out at 
15 and varied froin 2 to 150, and most of the schools were single- 
teacher institutions. As a rule, they were not communal in their 
working and were open to all who could afford to pay for their 
schooling except to those who belonged to the so-called low 

(&) The Teachers : Of the teachers, the majority were Brahmins 
who were attached to the profession more by the respectability 
which tradition gave to it rather than by considerations of actual 
gains in cash or kind. Among the other castes from which 
teachers generally came may be mentioned the names of Prabhus, 
Marathas, Bhandarees, Kunbis, Wanis, Shimpis, Banias, etc. 
The total remuneration of the teacher was between Rs. 3 and Rs. 5 
p.m. on an average and consisted of payments in cash and kind. 
But there were some compensations for this low remuneration. 
As Shri R. V. Parulekar observes: 

We have so far considered the regular emoluments which the 
schoolmasters expected to get as their dues. In actual practice, 
however, they scarcely got the full amount. The schoolmaster of 
the time, however, could claim certain privileges from the com- 
munity which compensated, not to a small extent, for the small- 
ness of his earning. He was entirely a man of the people whose 
children he taught. He was always remembered in the hearts 
and at the hearths of the people. The well-to-do and the rich 
gave him more than others, both in cash and kind. He could 
command a meal from the parents of his pupils formere asking. 
On marriage ceremonies of his pupils — and these were not rare 
in those days of early marriage — he received substantial presents 
and gave his blessings. The Ahmedabad report says fi A school- 
master is invariably invited to all great dinners in his own caste 
and besides his fixed and established emoluments he generally 
receives considerable presents at Dusserah, Dewally and other 
great days, from the wealthy inhabitants of his village. It is 

usual when a marriage procession passes by a school, 
small present in money to the schoolmaster, and to obtain s: 
holiday, for the boys. From the Karnatak, a similar practice is 
also reported where the teacher was remembered with equal 
love and respect on occasions of joy and festivity.’ 1 

The educational attainments of the teachers were also far from 
satisfactory. As Shri R. V. Parulekar points out, 

The teachers who taught in the common elementary schools 
of the time were required to teach the rudiments of the three 
R’s. Knowledge of the multiplication and other tables in their 
long and complicated array was essential to every teacher; but 
beyond that a tolerably good handwriting and ability to read 
simple writing formed the minimum attainments of a common 
schoolmaster. It is not, therefore, surprising that a report from 
Gujratja says ‘the masters are ignorant, and in fact, as to 
knowledge to be gained from books, have as much to learn 
as the boys themselves’. 2 

(c) The Pupils of the elementary schools came from all Hindu 
castes, except the Harijans. About 30 per cent of them were 
Brahmins. The other castes which sent large numbers of pupils 
to schools were Wanis, Prabhus, Sonars and Banias. The advanced 
communities contributed about 70 per cent of the total number 
of pupils. Their age varied from 6 to 14; and the average 
duration of school life was about 2 qr 3 years in Gujarat and 
about 3 or 4 years in the other areas. 

(d) Curriculum and Methods of Teaching ; The elementary 
schools taught the rudiments of Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. 
A large variety of multiplication tables were taught to the pupils 
mainly with a view to enabling them to solve mentally all types 
of sums that ordinarily occurred in daily life. There was a com- 
plete absence of printed books. The equipment of the schools was 
very simple and crude, if it existed at all, and the punishments 
awarded to pupils were both frequent and severe. 

(e) Female Education : There is no mention of a female scholar 

1 R. V. Parulekar : opxit p. ix. 

1 Ibid. 




attending any of the common schools of the Province. This is by 
no means due to hurry or omission. The common schools of the 
time were meant for boys only. 

(/) Domestic Instruction . The Bombay reports do not take 
into consideration the system of domestic instruction and do not 
give any details about the system, although they contain some 
stray references to its existence in different parts of the Province. 

(g) Education of the Muslims : There were several indigenous 
schools which were attended by Muslims alone and which were in 
charge of Muslim teachers. These schools taught Persian and, in 
some cases, Hindustani. In several places, Muslims attended the 
ordinary Hindu schools. 

(h) Hindu Schools of Higher Learning : Some of the reports 
mention the Hindu Schools of higher learning. In Ahmednagar 
1 6 such schools existed and in Poona City, there were as many as 
164 (out of a total of 222 educational institutions of all kinds). 

The Enquiry in Bombay (1829): This enquiry was different from 
those of 1823 — 25 because the imformation was now called for, not 
through the Collectors, but through the District Judges, it 
showed the existence of 1,705 schools with 35,153 pupils for a 
population of 4,681,735. 

Reliability of the Enquiries in Bombay: How far are these reports 
reliable? From the qualitative point of view, it may be admitted 
that they give a fairly correct picture of the indigenous edu : 
cational institutions of the period. But it may well be doubted 
whether they give an equally realistic picture on the quantitative 
side. It has already been stated, that these reports do not take 
much notice of the system of domestic instruction which certainly 
existed in Bombay. Even in respect of formal schools, it is highly 
improbable that they include statistics of all the institutions in 
existence. Several of these reports were compiled in great haste. 
For instance, the Broach, Kaira and Surat Collectors were able 
to submit their reports within about four months of the Govern- 
ment letter instituting the enquiry. Although others were not so 
expeditious, the time taken by them was not certainly enough for 
such an extensive enquiry touching every village in the districts 
reported upon, especially in view of the slow means of conveyance 

and despatch of correspondence which then prevailed. The 1828- 
29 report wa^ also not more cautious in this respect. Secondly, 
errors seem to have crept in because of the peculiar situation of 
this period “The Peshwa’s rule was just ended and the New 
Rulers were just establishing theirs. There was an atmosphere of 
suspicion that whatever Government did was with some ulterior 
motive for its own benefit.” 1 In such an atmosphere, it is hardly 
to be wondered if the people deliberately suppressed information 
regarding several schools from the enquiring officers of the 
Government. Thirdly, the reports were motsly compiled by busy 
officers who were not particularly interested in the problems and 
anyone who is conversant with such official enquiries knows that 
their results are not always reliable. Fourthly, evidence to the 
contrary is available from the statements of several impor- 
tant British officials of this period. As Shri R. V. Parulekar 

The following remarkable statement was made by Mr. G* L. 
Prendergast, a member of the Bombay Governor’s Council in 
his Minute of 1821: 

I need hardly mention what every member of the Board knows 
as well as I do, that there is hardly a village, great or small, 
throughout our territories^ in which there is not at least one 
school, and in larger villages more, many in every town and in ^ 
larger cities in every division; where young natives are taught 
reading, writing and arithmetic, upon a system so economical, 
from a handful or two of grain, to perhaps a rupee per month to 
the schoolmaster; according to the ability of the parents, and 
at the same time so simple and effectual that there is hardly a 
cultivator or petty dealer who is not competent to keep his own 
accounts with a degree of accuracy, in my opinion, beyond what 
we meet with amongst the lower orders in our own country; 
while the more splendid dealer, and bankers keep their books 
with a degree of case, conciseness and clearness, I rather think 
fully equal to those of any British Merchant (Evidence of 1832, 
p. 468). 

There are schools maintained by the natives in almost every 
village in Candeish (Evidence of 1832, p. 296). 

1 R. V. Parulekar : op. cit. y p. iv. 

14 a students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

There are probably as great a proportion of persons in India 
who can read, write and keep simple accounts as are to be found 
in European Countries [Fifth Annual Report (1819) of the 
Bombay Education Society, p. 11 ]. 

Schools are frequent among the natives and abound every- 
where [B. E. S.’s sixth Report (1820), p. 21]. 

We do not suggest that these general impressions about the 
extent of education in the Province of Bombay should be taken 
at their face value, but to ignore them altogether and to insist 
on taking the ‘official’ figures at their face value would be 
equally improper. 1 

An approach to the problem with an open mind is, therefore, 
more likely to show that the Bombay statistics are unreliable 
underestimates than to prove that they can be taken as the yard- 
stick with which to measure the extent of elementary education in 
India as a whole. 

Enquiries in Bengal: The enquiries conducted in Bengal regarding 
the indigenous system of education differed strikingly from those 
in Madras and Bombay. These enquiries were conducted by a 
non-official— a zealous missionary by the name of William 
Adam — and not through the official channels of the Revenue and 
Judicial Departments. Moreover, the work of these enquiries was 
far more methodical and spread over a far longer time than was 
the case with those in Madras and Bombay. The findings of 
William Adam, therefore, deserve a very careful study. 2 

(a) Adam's First Report : The first report of Adam is a very 
carefully prepared digest of all the educational data then available. 
It makes very good reading although the information it contains 
is neither so adequate nor so reliable as that in his own two later 
reports. The main interest of the report lies, however, in the 
following passage which, in recent years, has become the subject 
of a great controversy: 

Indigenous Elementary Schools : By this description are meant 

1 R. V. Parulekar : op. c/7., p. v. 

2 The information given in this and the following paragraphs is taken from 
the edition of Adam’s Reports edited by Shri A.M. Basu and published by the 
University of Calcutta. 


those schools in which instruction in the elements of knowledge 
is communicated, and which have been originated and are sup- 
ported by the Natives themselves, in contra-distinction from 
those that are supported by religious or philanthropic societies. 
The number of such schools in Bengal is supposed to be very 
great. A distinguished member of the General Committee of 
Public Instruction in a minute on the subject expressed the 
opinion, that if one rupee per mensem were expended on each 
existing village school in the Lower Provinces, the amount would 
probably fall little short of 12 lakhs of rupees per annum. This 
supposes that there are 100,000 such schools in Bengal and 
Bihar, and assuming the population of those two provi nces to be > 
40,000,000, there would be a village school for every 400 persons. 1 

This report has been dubbed a myth or a legend by some 
students of educational history (like Sir Philip Hartog) while 
others (like Shri R. V. Parulekar) maintain with equal force that 
it is substantially correct. The argument chiefly centres round two 
points : firstly, the two sides differ in the interpretation of the 
word sdhooL One side uses the expression in its modern sense, 
viz., an institution of a more or less permanent nature conducted 
by a person who teaches a certain number of the children of the 
locality in return for fees and perquisites from the pupils and/or ^ 
a remuneration from the community. If the word is used in this^ 
sense, it is correct to conclude that the idea of 100,000 schools in 
Bengal is a fantastic exaggeration of facts. But the other side ^ 
contests this interpretation. It* argues that, in those days, the 
word school was used to mean a place where instruction was given 
and included the centres where the system of domestic instruction 
prevailed. According to this view, a family where a teacher was 
employed to give education to its children, or where the father 
taught his own children— with or without other children from th& 
locality— was also a school as understood in Jk Qse days. In sup- 
port of this theory, it is pointed out that Adam collected all 
statistics of families giving domestic instruction as part of his 
enquiry about schools and scholars. 2 If this view is accepted, it 

1 Adam's Reports — Calcutta Edition, p. 6. 

Adam’s own words on this subject are the following: 

“Elementary instruction in this district (i.e., Rajshahi) is divisible into two 

16 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

follows that almost every village in Bengal had a school, public 
or private, and that the larger ones had several each. 

Secondly, the question as to why Adam himself did not point 
out the falsity of the legend of one lakh schools is also variously 
answered. The honesty of Adam is not doubted; but Sir Philip 
thinks that he could not ‘‘summarize his statistics clearly”, 1 
while the other side points out the great powers of observation 
and analysis that he displays in his reports and asserts that the 
legend of 100,000 schools had persisted in official and non-official 
cricles for the simple reason that it was not a legend. As M.R. 
Paranjpe observed: 

Officials and publicists who belong to this century and who 
have no personal knowledge of the educational conditions of the 
country in the middle half of the nineteenth century are unwilling 
to believe that there ever were schools in villages where the 
modern Departments of Education find it impossible to ffiaintain 
them. They cannot conceive of simple instructional centres 
maintained by the villages jointly or by rich landlords individu- 
ally, by paying the teachers in kind. But officials and non-officials 
who lived in the fifties and sixties of the last century have, like 
Adam, admitted the existence of a school in every village. At 
the beginning of the nineteenth century, there existed a fairly 
widespread oranizatian for primary education in most parts of 
India. In Madras Presidency, Sir Thomas Munro found ‘a 
primary school in every village’ (Mill — History of British India , 
Vol. I, p. 562,4th edition). In Bengal, Ward discovered that 
‘almost all villages possessed schools for teaching reading, 
writing, and elementary arithmetic*.’ (Ward — View of the 
Hindoos, Vol. I, p. 160.) In Malva, which was for more than 
half a century suffering from continuous anarch y, Malcolm noti- ^ 
ced that ‘every village with about a hundred houses had an 
elementary school at the time of its coming under the British 
suzerainty.’ (Malcolm — Memoirs of Central India and Malva, 

sorts : Public and Private, according as it is communicated in public schools 
or private families. The distinction is not always strictly maintained, but it is 
sufficiently marked.” — Reports, Calcutta Edition, pp. 136-37. 

1 Sir Philip Hartog : Some Aspects of Indian Education, p. 75. 



Vol. II, p. 150.) 1 

(b) Adam’s Second Report: In his second report, Adam made 
a thorough and comprehensive enquiry of one Thana, Nattore, in 
the district of Rajshahi. His main object in doing this was to get 
an insight into the prob lem and the difficul ti es of investigatio n. 
He selected Nattore because it was the most central of~the 
Than as of the Rajshahi district and could be regarded as a 
standard for judging conditions in the other sub-divisions. The 
results of Adam’s enquiries are briefly stated in the following 

The population of the Thana was 195,296 of which 129,640 were 
Muslims and 65,656 Hindus. The number of villages was 485. 
Adam found only 27 elementary schools with 262 pupils. Of 
these 10 were Bengali schools with 167 pupils, 4 were Persian 
schools with 23 pupils, 1 1 were Arabic schools (for the teaching 
of the Koran) with 42 pupils and 2 were Bengali and Persian 
schools with 30 pupils. Besides these, there were 1,588 families 
belonging to 238 villages, which gave instruction to 2,342 chil- 
dren. In other words, the number of children under domestic 
instruction was nearly nine times the number of pupils in public ' 
schools. The average age of admission to a public elementary 
school was 8 years and the average age of leaving school was 14 . 
years. The average pay of the teachers in elementary schools was 
Rs. 5-8 per month. 

There were no indigenous colleges conducted by Muslims. But 
Adam found 38 Sanskrit colleges with 397 students. The average * 
age of the admission was 1 1 years and the average age of com- • 
pleting the course was 27 years. Of the 397 students, 136 belonged 
to the villages where the colleges were situated and received free 
education only, while 261 students belonged to other villages and 
received food, lodging and education, free of charge, from their 

Female education was practically non-existent. But Adam esti- 
mated that the total number of instructed adults in Nattore was 
6,121 as follows: 

1 Progress of Education, July 1940 , p. 38. 





Teachers in Hindu Colleges 


Learned men who were not teachers 


Students in Colleges 


Persons who had received an education 

superior to reading and writing 


Persons who could sign their names or 

read imperfectly 


Total . 6,121 

This gives a literacy percentage of 6.1 to the total male popula- 
tion and 3.1 to the whole population including females. 

(c) Adam's Third Report : The third report of Adam is the most 
important of all. It is divided into two parts. In the first part 
Adam gives the statistics collected by him for five districts, viz., 
Murshidabad, Birbhum, Burdwan, South Bihar and Tirhut. In 
the second part, he gives his proposals for the reform of indi- 
genous schools. 

Adam prefers his third report by admitting that, in spite of all 
that he could do, his statistics were underestimated . The causes 
are mainly two: In the first place, he conducted the investigation 
under his personal supervision in one Thana of each district and 
employed agents to collect information from the other Thanas. 
This enabled him to collect a good deal of data but he found 
that the reports of his agents were not quite reliable. “Although 
I believe”, wrote Adam, “that the returns I receive are in general 
worthy of confidence as far as they go, yet I have no security 
that they are not defective. In traversing a district, my agents 
could not visit all the villages it contained, amounting to several 
thousands. This was physically impossible without protracting 
the enquiry beyond all reasonable limits. They were, therefore, 
compelled to depend either upon their personal knowledge, or 
upon the information that could be gathered from others as to 
the places possessing schools, every one of which was invariably 
visited and examined; but that in no instance a village-institution 
has been overlooked is more than I dare affirm, and in point of 
fact I have sometimes discovered instances in which such institu- 
tions had at first escaped attention.” 1 Secondly, he found that 

1 Adam’s Reports— Calcutta Edition, p. 219 , 

sometimes the people got frightened at the enquiry and concealed 
the exact number of females in the house, and that often, even 
schools and colleges “concealed themselves to escape the dreaded 
inquisition.” 1 But even after making allowance for these candid 
confessions, it must be admitted that his statistics of indigenous 
education are the most reliable of all the statistics we possess on 
the subject. 

The following tables summarise the general statistics given 
by Adam: 

Table I — Schools 

Number of schools 





















. , 










. . 















South Bihar 




. . 



. . 



















Table II— Scholars 


Number of scholars j 


& Hindi 





























South Bihar 





. . 















220 . 





These statistics exclude the centres of domestic instruction and 
if reliance is to be placed on these alone, it is obvious that the 
report of one lakh schools in Bengal can only be a myth. This is 
exactly the argument used by Sir Philip Hartog who gives the 
following figures: 



No. of 

Hypothetical number 
of schools on the 
basis of one 
school per 400 
of population 






1 1,267,067 




| 1,187,580 



South Bihar 








(Taken from p. 83 of Some Aspects of Indian Education .) 




No. of towns 
and villages 

j Number of schools 


No. of hypothetical 
schools on the basis 
of one school for 
400 people 

schools (iuclu- 
des Persian) 

Schools of 

Other schools 

Private schools 
of domestic 

City of Murshidabad 


. , 








Thana Daulatbazar 




. . 




,, Nanglia 





. . 




„ Culna 









„ Jehanabad 





. . 




„ Bhawara 

















Evidently, Adam could not but have noticed the great discre- 
pancy between his earlier statement of the existence of one lakh 
schools in Bengal and these figures; and the only way in which 
one can explain his silence is to assume that he knew that centres 
of domestic instruction were excluded from these figures and that 
his earlier report would have been true if they had been included. 
For instance, he collected the figures for centres of domestic 
instruction in one Thana of each of the above districts and his 
figures bear out his earlier statement in its entirety. 

Similarly, we shall have to take into consideration the number 
of children under domestic instruction if we want to have a 
correct idea of the population receiving instruction. The follow- 
ing statistics for the six Thanas where intensive studies were 
undertaken are supplied by Adam: 

Area I 





No. of 


No. of 


Total No. of 
domestic and 


City of Murshidabad 

124,804 | 




Thana Daulatbazar 

62,037 | 




„ Nanglia 





„ Culna 





„ Jehanabad 





„ Bhawara 










These figures show that the ratio of pupils to total population 
was 1 to 73. If male population alone is considered, the ratio 
would be 1 to 36, that is to say, a little less than the ratio given 
by Munro. 

| City of Thana Thana Total of 

| Murshi- Daulat- Thana Thana Jehan- Thana last six 

dabad bazar Nanglia Culna abad Bhawara columns 



N.B . — This table is taken from Literacy of India in Pre-British Days by R. V. Parulekar. 



Let us now turn to the statistics of literacy given by Adam (see 
Table on p. 22). They are equivalent to “the first systematic 
census of lit^sy in India”. 1 But one aspect of these statistics is 
challenged by scholars like Sir Philip. Adam divided his adult 
literates into six classes under the sixth of which he enumerated 
all persons who could “decipher or sign their names”. The census 
definition of literacy is “ability to read and write a letter” and * 
judged from this point of view, these persons cannot be considered 
to be literate. In comparing Adam’s figures of literacy with 
those of later days, therefore, Sir Philip excludes the 5,519 persons 
who could only “decipher or sign their names”. This view, how- 
ever, is challenged by other students of history like Shri R. V. 
Parulekar. He, and others who agree with him, contend that 
standards of attainment are bound to vary from age to age and 
that it would be wrong to judge Adam’s age by standards which 
came to be adopted a century later. In his day, there were no 
papers, no printed books, no post-offices and hence the require- 
ments of people in the matter of literacy were very limited indeed. 
They, therefore, argue that in comparing Adam’s figures of 
literacy with those of later years, we must include all persons , 
whom he himself regarded as literate. This point will be discussed 
in further detail in Chapter 8. It would, however, be enough 
to state here that the principal use of these statistics, viz. 9 com- 
parison with the statistics of literacy in British India in 1921 is 
not materially affected by the adoption of either view. 

Extent and Character of the Indigenous System of Education at 
the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century; In the foregoing pages, 
we took a bird’s-eye view of the principal sources of information 
regarding the indigenous system of education. We shall now 
conclude this discussion with a brief description of the character 
and extent of indigenous education as it existed at the beginning 
of the nineteenth century. 

(a) Types of Institutions : The indigenous educational institu- 
tions of this period were divided into four main types as 

*Sir Philip Hartog: Some Aspects of Indian Education , p. 84. 


Indigenous institutions 

Schools of learning Elementary schools 

|‘ " — — | „ 1 

Pathshalas of Madrassahs Persian Schools teaching 

the Hindus of the Muslims Schools through the modern 

Indian languages 

(b) Schools of Learning : Although the Hindus and Muslims 
had separate schools of learning, several important features were 
common to both the types of institutions. For instance, both 
kinds of institutions received pecuniary assistance from rulers, 
chieftains and opulent or religious citizens. Both were staffed by 
learned teachers, some of whom were authors of repute, but most 
of whom received very low remuneration. In both, instruction 
was mostly given gratis and no regular fees, as now understood, 
were charged. Both were mediaeval in character, used a classical 
language as the medium of instruction (Sanskrit in one case and 
Arabic or Persian in the other), and imparted instruction on tra- 
ditional lines. In both, the teachers were remunerated in one or 
/ more of the following wa^ viz., grants of land made by rulers, 
occasional voluntar y (paring from pupils and members of the 
public, allowances paid by wealthy citizens and payment in the 
form of food, clothes or other articles. Lastly, both had a few 
teachers who not only taught gratis but also provided food and 
lodging to their pupils. 

Generally speaking, the schools had no special buildings of 
their own. Where these existed, they were built either by the 
teachers themselves, or at the expense of patrons or friends, or 
by subscriptions from the people. In most cases, however, the 
schools were held in the local temple or mosque and not infre- 
quently in the house of some local magnate or patron or of the 
teacher himself. The students entered the schools at a fairly early 
age and studied as long as they desired and often for as long as 
twelve years or more. It must be noted that the State had nothing 
to do with the day-to-day work of these schools. They were con- 
ducted by learned men individually who did so more for religious 


than f fj pecuniary considerations. 

The Hindu schools of learning were conducted almost 
exclusively by Brahmins and a very large majority of the students * 
attending them were Brahmins. There were no women students 
nor any persons belonging to the large number of communities 
who were denied the right to study the sacred lore. In the Per- 
sian and Arabic schools, on the other hand, though the teachers 
were generally Muslims, a Hindu teacher of Persian was not a • 
rare phenomenon. Moreover, several Hindus attended Persian 
schools conducted by Muslims because Persian was then the Court 
language. In some of the Bengal districts, Adam even found that 
the majority of students in Persian schools were Hindus. 

(c) The Indigenous Elementary Schools : The schools of learn- 
ing of this period correspond to the colleges of modern type. They 
gave the highest instruction known, which, in those days, meant 
mostly religious instruction. Their chief object was to produce 
Moulavis and Pandits, and people were led to support them 
mainly by religious motives. Although they were highly venerated 
by the people, they were really the weaker and less useful part 
of the educational system on account of their exclusive character, 
conservative tone and obsolete ideals and methods of instruction. 

The indigenous elementary school, the main agency for the 
spread of mass education, was a humbler but far more useful 
institution. The instruction given in it was of a practical type and 
mostly limited to the three R’s. It catered, not to the needs of the 
priestly class, but to the mundane requirements of the petty 
zamindar, the bania and the well-to-do farmer. It had no 
religious veneration attached to it, and consequently, it had no * 
endowments either from the State or from the public. Its teachers 
were men of ordinary attainments and, very often, they knew no 
more than the little they taught in their schools. Their remunera- 
tion was much lower than that of the teachers in the schools of 
learning and, except in those casts/ where the teacher was main- 
tained by a rich person, consisted of small collections or occa- 
sional presents from parents of children who attended the school. 
Occasionally, some of the teachers in these schools followed some 
other profession or trade for their maintenance and conducted the 
school only as a side business. Unlike the schools of learning, it is 
worthy of note that the pupils in these schools included a small 

26 A sTu&ents* history of education in INDIA 

percentage of girls and children of many communities although 
the children of the upper classes formed the large majority. 

Some features of the indigenous elementary schools are of 
great interest. For instance, their equipment was extremely simple. 
They had no buildings and were held, sometimes, in the house of 
the teacher or the patron of the school, often in a local temple, 
and not infrequently under a tree. There were no printed books 
and the slates or pencils used by pupils were such as could be 
easily made in the locality. The hours of instruction and the days 
of working were finely adjusted to local requirements. The size 
of the school was generally small— the number of pupils varying 
from one or two to ten or fifteen at the most. There were con- 
sequently no classes, no regular period of admission, etc. A pupil 
joined the school at any time, became a class by himself, followed 
his own pace of study, and left the school when he had acquired 
all that he desired to know or the school had to teach. In bigger 
schools, there was in vogue a system under which the senior pupils 
were appointed to teach junior ones. It was this system that 
attracted attention of Dr. Bell, the Presidency Chaplain at 
Madras, and which he introduced in England as a cheap and 
efficient method of educating the poor. The system later came to 
be known as the Monitorial or Madras system in England. The 
curriculum was very narrow and consisted of reading, writing, 
arithmetic (both written and oral) and accounts. There was no fee 
in the modern sense, but each parent who sent his child to the 
school generally made some payment to the teacher— either in 
cash or in kind. The amount of the payment depended upon the 
capacity of the parent and even the time and mode of payment 
were left to his convenience. 

The chief merits of the indigenous system of elementary schools 
were their adaptability to local environment and the vitality and 
popularity they had earned by centuries of existence under a variety 
of economic conditions or political vicissitudes. Their main defects 
were the exclusion of girls and Harijan pupils. To these may be 
added (although such a judgment 'suffers from the defect of impos- 
ing modern concepts of education upon an earlier period) the lack 
of training or sound education among their teachers, their narrow and 
limited curriculum, and the severe forms of punishment adopted. 1 
Calcutta Review , No. IV, p. 334 


(d) The Extent of Mass Education : It appears that schools, 

particularly centres of domestic instruction, abounded in every 
part of the country and that some humble means of instruction 
or other was available even in very small villages where, for years 
together, the British administration found it difficult to establish 
and maintain even a primary school. The percentage of literacy 
was anything between 8 and 12 among the male adult population, * 
or between 4 and 6 for the population as a whole. Certain of 
the higher castes were wholly literate in so far as the male adult 
population was concerned, while the women of all castes (with 
a very few individual exceptions) and the entire population of 
several lower castes were wholly illiterate. 

(e) Decaying Condition of Indigenous Education: Another feature 
that emerges from the study of the sources is that, at the begin- 
ning of the nineteenth century, the indigenous system of education 
was fast decaying on account of the prevailing anarchy or the 
growing impoverishment of the people under the British Rule. 1 

Potentialities of the Indigenous System of Education to Develop 
into a National System of Education by Suitable Extension and 
Improvement: The preceding discussion regarding the character 
and extent of the indigenous system of education brings us to the 
final point, whether the system had potentialities which made it 
capable of being developed into a national system of education 
by suitable improvement and extension. In our opinion it cer- 
tainly had these potentialities. We are led to this conclusion by 
two general considerations. Firstly, we find that, in most 
counfr ies of the world which are now educationally progressive 
the national system of education was built up on the 
foundations of the traditional system — in spite of its admitted, 
and numerous defects. In England, for instance, mass 
education was spread by gradual expansion and improve- 
ment of the defective voluntary schools which already 
existed. A great authority like Sir Michael Sadler justifies 
the wisdom of this step and pays a tribute to their valuable 
contribution to the development of mass education in England. 
He says, “Although the teachers were, as a rule, not trained 

1 Nurullah and Naik: History of Education in India during the British Period, 
pp. 42-43. 


and often unable to impart knowledge, although the buildings 
were frequently not suitable for schools, the books deficient in 
num ers and quality , the attendance of the scholars very irregular, 
yet the first step not only had been taken but the children had, 
been accustomed to school life.** What the voluntary school 
did to the cause of mass education in England, the indigenous 
schools could certainly have done to the cause of education in 
India as a whole, if only those in authority had seen their way 
to help them to live, expand and improve. 

Secondly, our view is also supported by that of several British 
o cers and workers. Adam', for instance, was thoroughly con- 
vinced that a national system of education could be build up in 
India on the foundation of the indigenous schools. He said: 

To whatever extent such institutions may exist, and in what- 
ever condition they may be found, stationary, advancing, or 
retrograding, they present the only true and sure foundations 
on which any scheme of general or national education can be 
established. We may deepen and extend the foundations; we 
may improve, enlarge and beautify the superstructure; but these 
are the foundations on which the building should be raised. 
All men, particularly uninstructed and half-instructed men, 
attach the same importance to forms as to substance, and as 
forms are merely conventional, it is desirable in the work of 
reform to disembarrass ourselves of opposition founded on the 
overthrow of ancient forms, and to enlist on our side the 
prepossessions in favour of their continued use. Besides, there 
is a probability that those forms, if not at the period of their 
original adoption, yet by long continued usage are suited to the 
manners, habits, and general character of the people whom we 
desire to benefit, and that any other forms which we might seek 
to establish would in reality be less fitted to supply their place. 
All schemes for the improvement of education, therefore, to be 
efficient and permanent, should be based upon the existing 
institutions of the country, transmitted from time immemorial, 
ami iar to the conceptions of the people and inspiring them 
wi respect and veneration. To labour successfully for them, 

lc C mi J St a ^ our them; and to labour successfully with them 
Special Reports on Educational Subjects, Vol. II, p. 449. 


we must get them to labour willingly and intelligently with us. 
We must make them, in short, the instruments of their own 
. improvement; and how can this be done but oy identifying our- 
selves and our improvements with them and their institutions? 1 

Adam, therefore, recommended that — 

existing native institutions from the highest to the lowest, of all 
kinds and classes , were the fittest means to be employed for raising 
and improving the character of the people , that to employ those 
institutions for such a purpose would be the simplest , the safest , 
the most popular , the most economical , and the most effectual 
plan for giving that stimulus to the native mind which it needs on 
the subject of education, and for eliciting the exertions of the 
natives themselves for their improvement, without which all other 
means must be unavailing . . . . 2 

With these general observations Adam described the proposed 
working of his plan for the improvement of indigenous schools 
in the following seven stages: 

{a) The first step was to select one or more districts in which 
the plan could be tried as an experiment. 

(b) The second step was to hold a thorough educational 
survey of the district or districts selected more or less 
on the same lines on which he had conducted his investiga- 

(c) The third step was to prepare a set of books in modern 
Indian languages for the use of teachers and pupils. 

( d ) The fourth step was to appoint an Examiner for each 
district as the chief executive officer of the plan. His 
duties would be to survey his area, to meet teachers, to 
explain the books, to conduct examinations, to grant 
rewards, and generally to be responsible for carrying out 
the plan successfully. 

(e) The fifth step was to distribute the books to teachers and 
stimulate them to study them by the holding of examina- 

1 Adam’s Reports , Calcutta Edition, pp. Iviii-ix. 

2 Adam’s Reports , Calcutta Edition, pp. 349-50. 


30 A students' history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

tions and the granting of rewards to those who passed 
the tests. Adam also recommended the establishment 
of Normal schools where teachers of indigenous schools 
could be encouraged to study from one to three months 
a year for about four years so that their qualifica- 
tions could be improved without inconveniencing their 

(/) The sixth step was to encourage the teachers to impart the 
newly acquired knowledge to their pupils by holding 
examinations for them and by granting rewards. 

Of) The seventh step was to grant endowments of lands to 
village schools in order to encourage teachers to settle 
♦ down in villages and to educate the rural children. Adam 
pointed out several sources from which such gifts of land 
could be made or secured by Government. 

Other plans for the development of the indigenous institutions 
were prepared or suggested by several administrators and educa- 
tionists, such as Munro, Elphinstone, Thomason, Leitner, and 
were described in detail in several documents on educational 
policy such as the Despatch of 1854 or the Report of the Indian 
Education Commission, 1882-83. These will be dealt within 
due course. But these proposals mostly went unheeded; the 
officials of the Education Department allowed the indigenous 
system to die and spent their time and energy in creating a new 
system of education, ab initio . 

The modern educational system in India should have been; 
built upon the foundations of the indigenous system, and the 
effjrts of our educatioual administrators should have been 
directed to the improvement of these institutions and to their 
incorporation in the modern system of education. But this was 
never done. On the other hand, some attempts were made to 
encourage the schools of learning which were admittedly the 
weaker side of indigenous education, but even these were soon 
abandoned. The vast network of elementary schools never 
received the attention it deserved at the hands of Government. 
In spite of the exhortations of thinkers like Adam, Munro and 
Thomason, the directions of the Despatch of 1854 and the strong 
recommendations of the Indian Education Commission, indigen- 


ous elementary schools were either killed by ill-planned attempts 
at reform, or destroyed by deliberate competition, or allowed to 
die of sheer neglect. 

The results have been disastrous. It is true that attempts 
were made by the officers of the East India Company, and later 
by the Education Departments, to create a pew system of educa- 
tion in India. For several reasons, the process was slow, and it 
could hardly compensate for the loss of the indigenous schools, 
with the result that the educational position of India in 1921 was 
hardly better than that in 1821. In the meanwhile, other nations 
of the East and West, whose educational advance was equal, or 
even inferior to that of India in 1821, made such rapid advances 
that India soon lost her position of vantage in the comity of 
nations and became one of the most educationally backward 
countries of the world! 

The Monitorial System: Before we end this discussion of the 

indigenous educational system of India, we would like to point 
out with pride that the indigenous schools of India contributed 
the idea of the monitorial system to England. Historians talk 
only of England’s contribution to Indian Education and they 
generally ignore the great contribution which was made by India 
to the spread of education among the poorer classes of England 
hereself. Dr. Bell, the Presidency Chaplain at Madras, was the 
first Englishman to realise the valueof the Indian system of teaching 
with the help of monitors — a system that prevailed extensively in the 
indigenous schools. Dr. Bell realised that the main advantage of 
the system was to enable the teacher to manage a large number 
of pupils at a time so that the spread of education could be effect- 
ed at a very low cost. He, therefore, advocated the adoption 
of this system in England in a book entitled An Experiment in 
Education made at the Male Asylum at Madras , suggesting a system 
by which a school or a Family may teach itself under the superint- 
endence of the Master or Parent (1798). This book attracted 
great attention and eventually the Indian system was almost 
universally adopted in England. This system, variously des- 
cribed as the Madras system, or the Monitorial system, was 
the chief method by which England achieved expansion of 
primary education at a very low cost between 1801 and 


* 845 ’ It is an irony of fate that the indigenous schools of India 
should thus contribute-fo the spread of education in 
England and be of no avail in spreading mass education in India 

Chapter Two 

The East India Company Accepts Responsibility 
for the Education of Indians 

Proselytizing and Educational Activities of the East India Company 
(1600-1765): yThe East India Company was, in this period, a 
/ primarily comtnerical concern and it is, therefore, not proper to 
expect it to take any steps for the education of the Indian people. 
But N. N. Law points out that, e ven in these early years, the 
Comp any was engaged in fostering^some proselytizing and educa- 
wnal activities within its possessions. As early as in 1614, steps 
were taken “for the recruitment of Indians for the propagation 
of the Gospel among their countrymen and for imparting to these 
missionaries such education, at the Company’s expense, as would 
enable them to carry out effectively the purposes for which they were 
enlisted”. 1 It is also on record that an Indian youth, christened 
Peter by King James I, was taken to England for education in the 
Christian doctrine although what he did later on is not known. 2 
I n 1659 , the Court of Directors explicitly stated that it was their 
earnest desire by all possible means to spread Christianity among 
the people of India and allowed missionaries to embark on their 
s\hips. 3 This evangelical zeal found support in contemporary 
England where the Church was experiencing the revival of a deep 
religious^fervour so that, when the Charter of the Company was 
renewed in 1698, the famous missionary clause was inserted in it 
by Parliament. This clause directed the Company to maintain 
ministers of religion at their factories in India and to take a 

1 N. N. Law: Promotion of Learning in India by Early European Settlers 
pp.7-8. ' ’ 

2 Ibid., p. 7. 

3 W.H. Sharp: Selections from Educational Records, Vol I, p. 3. 



Chaplain in every ship of 500 tons or more. The ministers were 
required to learn the Portuguese language which was then com- 
monly understood by the inferior servants at the factories, and 
also “to apply themselves to learn the native language of the 
country where they shall reside, the better to enable them to 
instruct the Gentoos that shall be the servants or slaves of the 
same Company or of their agents, in the Protestant religion”. 1 
The Charter also directed the Company to maintain schools, 
wherever necessary, in all their garrisons and bigger factories. 
The first part of this direction obviously implies that the Company 
was expected to spread the Gospel amongst all the Hindu 
employees of the Company at least, if not among the people as a 

Can these proselytizing activities be regarded as the beginning 
of the Company’s educational enterprise in India?— is the question 
often raised. Some historians seem to think that they can be; 
but it is wrong to equate the education of Indians with their 
conversion to Christianity. Such a view was common among the 
missionaries and the officers of the East India Company at this 
.period. Bu educationist can ever subscribe to it and it would 
be far more correct to hold that these early proselytizing activities 
of the Company had nothing to do with the education ofthe 
Indian people because they did not, in any way, cpntribute to the 
modern movement in education that began in India with the 
Charter Act of 1 813. 

What then is the importance of the missionary clause contained 
in the Charter Act of 1698? It may be said to have laid the 
foundation, not of the education of the Indian people, but of the 
education of the European and Anglo-Indian children who lived 
in the possessions of the Company. In accordance with the 
directions of this Charter, Chaplains were appointed in all the 
three Presidency towns. They regarded it as their pious duty 
to look after the education of the Christian children and, in 
particular, after the welfare and education of the Anglo-Indian 
children born of the Company’s soldiers and their Indian wives. 
These children were generally neglected and the Chaplains were 
anxious to claim them for the Christian fold and to educate them 
properly. With this object in view, they collected subscriptions 
■•Sir C. Ilbert: Government of India, p. 29. 

. education becomes a state responsibility 35 

a . established charity schools. The name was borrowed from 
England and indicated that the schools were supported by chanty 
“f were primarily meant for poor children or orphans. 
a lus arose the most important of the chanty schools 
inducted in India during the eighteenth century. Some idea 
o? their working can be had from the detailed account given 
hvN N. Law in his interesting book Promotion of Learning in 
India bv Early European Settlers. In the years immediately 
following 1698, the Chaplains of the Company seem to have 
followed the provisions ofthe Charter literally and conducted schools 
in Portuguese which was then the lingua franca at the factories of 
the Company. But the attempt never became popular; it was 
soon given up and English was adopted as the medium of instruc- 
tion. The oldest charity school to be established on this new 
model was St. Mary’s Charity School at Madras founded by 
Rev W Stevenson in 1715. It was financed by legacies, dona- 
tions and occasional grants from the Company. In 1719, a ^ 
charity school was established at Bombay by Rev. Richard Cobbe 
on the same principles. Chaplain Bellamy of Calcutta founded 
a similar charity school sometime between 1720 and 1731 and it * 
is on record that a new building was constructed for it in 1739. 
In 1787, a Female Orphan Asylum was opened at Madras and 
named after Lady Campbell, the wife of the Governor, who took 
a leading part in collecting funds. In the same year, a Male 
Asylum was also started at Madras by Rev. Dr. Andrew Bell, the 
Chaplain. This school is of great historical importance because 
it was here that Dr. Bell tried the monitorial system which he later • 
introduced in England. 

The East India Company assisted these charity schools in 
various ways. For instance, it (a) sanctioned recurring grants 
for maintenance; (6) permitted lotteries in their support, (c) gave 
non-recurring grants for buildings or provided sites; (d) allowed 
their officers to collect funds or act as school accountants or 
other office-bearers; (e) occasionally repaired the school buildings, 
and (/) accepted the funds of the schools as deposits at com- 
paratively higher rates of interest. But when all is said, it must 
be admitted that these schools were maintained by subscriptions 
and donations rnther than by the grants sanctioned by the 

36 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

Educational Policy of the Company between 1765 and 1813: After 
1765 when the Company became a political power in India, its 
educational policy underwent a change. Hitherto, the Company 
had restricted its attention to the education of Eurpean and 
Anglo-Indian children. It now began to feel__ that it must do 
for the Indian people. Politically, it was a successor 
to Hindu and Muslim rulers who encouraged higher learning in 
classical languages by (a) establishing madrassahs and pathshalas, 
(b) by giving marks of honour or pecuniary grants to learned 
Pandits and Moulavis, or (c) by endowing educational institutions 
for higher religious studies. It was felt that the Company must 
continue these traditions. Moreover, the Company wanted to 
educate sons of influential Indians for higher posts under 
Government and thereby win the confidence of. the upper-classes 
a ° d cons o lidate its rule in India. It was, therefore’ felf thaT~ the 
Company should establish some centres of higher learning for the 
Hindus and the Muslims— a desire that led to the establishment 
of institutions entirely different from the charity schools. Among 
these, the most important were the Calcutta Madrassah andjhe 
Banaras Sanskrit’College. 

The Calcutta Madrassah was founded by Warren Hastings in 
order “to conciliate the Mahomedans of Calcutta. . . to qualify 
the sons of Mahomedan gentlemen for responsible and lucrative 
offices in the State, and to produce competent officers for Courts 
of Justice to which students of the Madrassah on the production 
of certificates of qualification were to be drafted as vacancies 
occurred’’. 1 In the early years, lands yielding Rs. 29,000 (known 
as Madrassah Mahal) were assigned for the support of the 
Madrassah. In 1785, the lands were assigned by Sanad to 
Muhammad Muiz-ud-din, the Head of the Madrassah and his 
successors. But constant complaints regarding inefficiency and 
mismanagement led finally to the appointment of a European 
secretary to control the institution and to a guaranteed expendi- 
ture of Rs. 30,000 from the State treasury in lieu of assignment in 

The Banaras Sankrit College owed its establishment to the same 
political considerations as had operated in the case of the Calcutta 
Madrassah and was an attempt to conciliate the Hindu population 

J A. Howell: Education in India , p. 1. 

education becomes a state responsibility 37 

of the newly acquired territories of the Company. It was 
founded in 1791 by Jonathan Duncan, the Resident at Banaras, 
who thus explained the considerations that made him undertake 
the project: 

Two important advantages seemed derivable from such an 
establishmentjthe first to the British name and nation in its 
tendency towards endearing our Government to the native 
Hindus; by our exceeding in our attention towards them and 
their systems, the care shown even by their own native 
princes. . . .The second principal advantage that may be derived 
from this institution will be felt in its effect upon the natives. . . 
by preserving and disseminating a knowledge of the Hindu law, 
and proving a nursery of future doctors and expounders there- 
of, to assist European judges in the due, regular, and uniform 
administration of its genuine letter and spirit to the body of the 
people. 1 

In the first year of the college, a grant of Rs. 14,000 was 
sanctioned and it was then raised to Rs. 20,000 per annum. But 
as in the case of the Madrassah, the affairs of the college conti- 
nued to be badly managed by the Pandits and, consequently, a ’ 
European superintendent was appointed to conduct the institution. 

Taken together, the Calcutta Madrassah and the Banaras 
Sanskrit College show the beginning of the Orientalist School of • 
Educational Policy. The followers of this school of thought 
believed that the Company must not lend any support to 
missionary enterprise and [to proselytization; that it need not 
make any hasty attempt to teach Western knowledge to the 
Indian people; that its only duty was to follow in the footsteps 
of Hindu and Muslim rulers and to encourage classical learning 
in Sanskrit and Arabic on traditional lines; and that the ancient 
system of education which the Hindus and Muslims had inherited 
was good enough for them for all practical purposes. Obviously, 
this school of thought was dominated by political rather than by 
educational considerations and decided its policies on grounds of 
religious neutrality or the political expediency of conciliating the 
people. But this was a period when politics, and not education, 

1 W.H. Sharp: op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 11-12. 


dominated the Indian scene. The Orientalist views were, there- 
fore, readily accepted by the Court of Directors and between 
1765 and 1813, the principal object of the educational policy of 
the Company was to encourage traditional Oriental learning in 
Sanskrit and Arabic and the bulk of its educational expenditure 
was incurred on the maintenance of the Calcutta Madrassah and 
the Banaras Sanskrit College. 

The Reasons Which Led the Missionaries to Undertake Educational 
Activities: Side by side with these educational activities conduct- 
ed by the Company, a number of other educational activities 
were also organised by missionaries who ordinarily worked under 
the shadow of its political authority. These institutions ar^ of 
great significance in the history of education in modern India 
as pioneers of private enterprise in education and deserve detailed 

Before, however, coming to their history proper, it is necessary 
to understand *wky . . the. , missioMries undertook educational 
activities as an integral part of their work in India. The first and 
foremost object of the missionaries was to convert people to 
Christianity and one could not expect them to start educational 
institutions or to work as teachers. In fact, there was a time in 
early missionary history when the Home Authorities of missions 
refused to support educational institutions and opined that the 
priests had no business to found schools. But the practical 
experience of the early missionaries soon convinced them that 
they had to start schools as an important means of proselyti- 
zation. As Rev. Dr. D. O. Allen, an eminent missionary of the 
American Board, observed: 

In commencing their operations, missionaries have generally 
seen the propiiety and importance of establishing schools. One 
reason for them is to educate the minds of the people, so that 
• they may be more capable of understanding and appreciating 
the facts and evidences, the doctrines and duties of the Scrip- 
tures. Another reason for them is to increase the influence of 
the missionaries with the people, by communicating some 
advantage which they can appreciate, and by showing that 
Christianity rests on an intelligent perception of its doctrines, 


and contains reason for the performance of all its duties. And 
another reason for "such an education, is in its procuring means 
and opening ways of access to the people, and opportunities - 
of preaching to them. One great difficulty which missionaries 
often experience, is in obtaining access to the people, in circum- 
stances where Christianity can be made the subject of commu- 
nication or conversation. In such circumstances schools become 
very important, as a means of communication with different 
classes of people, with children and parents, and with men and 
women. And school-houses also become important as places 
for becoming acquainted with people, for social intercourse and 
religious worship. School-houses become chapels under the # 
control of missionaries. Their use for this purpose is often # 
more important than for education. 1 

In the same way it soon became equally evident that the 
missions had to conduct schools for the converted population. 
The early converts to Christianity came mostly from the lowest 
rung of the Hindu society. They were generally illiterate; and 
as reading the Bible was helcfto be essential for salvation, the 
missionaries were required to establish schools in order to teach 
the new converts to read and write. For the same reason, they 
were also compelled to introduce the printing press and to print • 
the Bible in the Indian languages. They had also to start voca- 
tional schoois and to secure employment under Government tq 
the converts in order to give them a living and a status in society. 
In fact, the early missionaries found that their work began, rather 
than ende37^®T^ a 'conversion, and that their main task was not 
so much the conversion of the people to Christianity as the 
improvement of the social, cultural and economic condition of the 
converted people — an object which could only be secured by 
conducting schools for their education. This duty became all 
t£e more urgent because neither the indigenous schools nor the 
Government schools could admit all the Indian Christian children 
and they would have remained without any education whatsoever 
if the missionaries had not organised schools of their own. In short, 
the missionaries soon realised that schools were both the cause 
and the effect of proselytization and that educational and mission- 
ir. G. Wilder: Mission Schools in India , pp. 36-37. 


ary work had to be undertaken side by side; and it is out of this 
realisation that the mission schools of modern India were born. 

The Work of the Danish Mission in Madras (1706-92): The hon- 
our of being the first Protestant Missionaries to work in the 
territories of the East India Company goes to the Danish Mission* 
The famous pioneers of this Mission — Ziegenbalg and Plustschau 
started their activities at Tranquebar — a Danish station in the 
South — in 1706. But since the Danes did not obtain a footing in 
India, most of the Danish missionaries who succeeded these 
pioneers “substantially identified themselves with the English 
colonies in South India, halting where they halted and advancing 
where they advanced”. 1 Other missions that came to India later 
followed the same policy and, as Richter rightly points out, 
“modern missionary work in India has as its background and 
setting the Anglo-Indian Empire; it is intimately connected with 
;he beginnings of that empire; and has extended along with it from 
>ne end of the country to the other”. 2 

Ziegenbalg and his colleagues did considerable missionary and 
educational work. For example, a printing press in Tamil was 
established in 1713. An institution for training teachers was 
opened at Tranquebar in 1716 and, in the following year, two 
charity schools were opened in Madras-one for Portuguese and the 
other for Tamil children. Ziegenbalg died in 1719 but his work was 
continued by other competent missionaries amongst whom may 
be mentioned the names of Grundler, Kiernander and Schwartz. 
In Madras, Grundler started, a little before 1717, “a Portuguese 
school in the White town and a Malabar school in the Black”. 3 
In 1742, Kiernander founded charity schools for Eurasians as well 
as Indians in and near Fort St. David. His work became 
so well known that Clive invited him to Calcutta where in 1758, 
he founded a charity school. Kiernander continued to work in 
Bengal for the rest of his life and did the same pioneer service to 
that Province which Ziegenbalg did to Madras. But even more 
important was the work of Schwartz who is looked upon as the 
pioneer of education in the Province of Madras. He founded a 

1 J.A. Ricfiter: A History of Missions in India , p. 27. 

2 Ibid., p. 128. 

3 N.N. Law: op . c/7., p. 74. 


school for European and Eurasian boys at Trichinopoly (about 
1772) and an English Charity School at Tanjore with the help . 
of the purse presented to him by Haider Ali of Mysore. With 
the assistance of John Sulivan, the Resident at Tanjore, he started 
three schools at Tanjore, Ramnad and Shivganga in 1785 with 
the object of teaching English to Indian children. These may • 
be said to be the earliest schools for teaching the English language 
to Indians and Sulivan hoped that they would help “the Company 
and the people to understand each other” and to “facilitate 
dealings of all kinds between them”. 1 “Christianity was not 
expressly taught (in these schools); nor were any deceitful methods * 
used to instil Christian doctrines into the pupils’ minds.” 2 The 
Court of Directors were enthusiastic about them and sanctioned 
a grant-in-aid of 250 pagodas per annum for each of them. 3 

It will be seen from the above account that t he miss ionaries 
were conducting, even atjhis early date, a number 'coeducational 
inTdtuTibns I n Indi a; and that these institutions differed from 
thosT conducted” by the Company’s Chaplains in a number of 
ways. The mission schools used Indian languages as media of 
instruction; they were meant, not only for European and Anglo- ' 
Indian children, but for the converted Indian children in general; 
and some of them were meant for Indian children and aimed at 
teaching the English language as a means of communication • 
between the rulers and the ruled. These distinctive features make 
the educational enterprise of early missionaries even more 
important than that of Chaplains. Besjdes ? it was the early 
missionaries who introduced the printing press in India and 
bega n the printing of books jn Indian languages. 

ThrCompahy maintained, throughout this period, an attitude 
of sympathy with this missionary enterprise. In some cases, they 
gave financial assistance to the mission schools. But what is even 
more important, they extended benevolent protection and 
sympathy to all such activities. As Law observes: 

In the seventeenth century, we find the Directors taking the 

initiative in educational work, but the arrival of the missionorics 

ilbid., p. 65. 

'Ibid., p. 68. 

3\V.H. Sharp : op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 3-4. 


in the beginning of the eighteenth century we find a change 
gradually setting in. They shifted their educational duties to the 
shoulders of the new-comers, though of course they did not stand 
aloof altogether. During the first three quarters of the eighteenth 
century, they gave assistance to schools of various kinds in 
various ways: they ordered, for instance, their servants at Fort 
St. David to act in the schools as accountants and occasionally 
repaired the school buildings. They did not, however, want 
to have a hand in the actual educational work, so that, up to 
1787, all that was done outside Fort St. George, was done by 
the missionaries either in their capacity as such or as garrison 
or station chaplains. 1 

The Work of the Serampore Trio and Others in Bengal (1758- 
1813): The Danish missionaries who worked in South in the 
eighteenth century were indeed lucky because they were able to 
obtain benevolent protection and sympathetic assistance from the 
East India Company. The missionaries who worked in Bengal, 
however, were far less fortunate. They had to struggle hard 
against a hostile attitude and had it not Been for the protection 
given to them by the Dutch Settlements at Serampore and Chin- 
sura, they would hardly have been able to achieve anything 
at all. 

Reference has already been made to the work of Kiernander. 
He was not only the pioneer missionary in Bengal, but had also 
the good fortune to obtain sympathetic treatment from the 
Company. He was followed by D r. Ca rey, a representative of 
the Baptist Missionary Society, in 1793. He worked for a time 
at Calcutta; but owing to difficulties, finally shifted to Malda 
where he superintended an indigo factory and used all his spare 
time in translating the New Testament into Bengali, holding daily 
religious services for the servants on the estate, preaching among 
the neighbouring villagers and in supervising a school he had 
established. In 1799, two other missionaries — Ward and 
Marshman — arrived in Calcutta. Their original object was to 
join Carey in his work in North Bengal; but they found that the 
East India Company would not permit them to do so. They, 
therefore, persuaded Carey to join them and decided to settle 
X N. N. Law: op. cit p. 33. 


down at the Dutch Settlement of Serampore which was only 
about 1 5 miles from Calcutta and where the Dutch Governor 
gave them all the protection they needed. Thus came into exis- 
tence the famous Serampore Trio . Indeed, these three friends 
formed an excellent combination for mission work because Carey 
was a great propagandist. Ward was a printer and Marshman 
w as a s chool teacher. They translated and printed the Bible in 
several languages and also issued a number of tracts on useful 
subjects. In this connection, Sherring observes: 

In no country in the world, and in no period in the history 
of Christianity, was there ever displayed such an amount of 
energy in the translation of the Sacred Scriptures from their 
originals into other tongues, as was exhibited by a handful of 
earnest men in Calcutta and Serampore in the first ten years 
of the present century. By their own industry and that of 
others in various parts of India who had caught from them 
inspiration for the work, during this short period, portions of 
the Bible, chiefly of the New Testament, had been translated, 
and actually printed, in thirty-one Indian languages and ’ 
dialects. One is amazed, and almost overwhelmed, at the 
stupendousness of this undertaking. It cannot be supposed 
that these first attempts are to be compared with the 
versions which have been subsequently made in these lang- 
uages. But this must not diminish the intense admiration we 
ought to feel towards men of such boldness of design, and such 
astounding energy of execution. Not content with their 
labours in this direction, they also published a great multitude 
of tracts, the Serampore press alone issuing them in twenty * 
languages, and, in addition, books for schools and colleges. 1 

In addition to this work of translating and printing the Bible, 
the Serampore Trio also conducted several schools for boys and 
girls at Serampore, Calcutta and other outlying stations. 

^X)n the whole, the Serampore Trio did not come into any 
serious conflict with the officials of the Company except on one 
occasion. In 1808, they published certain tracts called Addresses 
to Hindus and Mahomedans . These were so worded as to offend # 
1 M. A. Sherring: The History of Protestant Missions in India , p. 75. 


the religious sentiments of the Indian people and, therefore, the 
Company prohibited their circulation within its territories. It 
really wanted to take some more drastic action and directed 
that their press should be removed to Calcutta so as to bring it 
under the proper control of the Company’s officials. This would 
have been a great blow to their work; but the Danish Governor 
intervened and finally, the earlier order was withdrawn and the 
Trio were directed to “submit works intended for circulation 
m the Company s territories to the inspection of its officers”. 1 

i m 7 en * them more careful in their proselytization 

although it did not affect their educational activities in any way. 

As pointed out by Richter in the following extract, the extent 
and^ volume of mission work in India was very small even in 

Taken all in all, it was a day of small things. About 1812 

there existed mission stations at Serampore (still in the hands 

°f the Danes) whence Calcutta was worked; outstations 
of the Baptists of Dinajpur, in the indigo district, where 
Carey had laboured before settling in Serampore; and at the well-watered delta-district of Eastern Bengal. 

I he London Missionary Society was busy in Dutch Chinsura 
and at Vizagapatam. In Madras and the Tamil country no 
new work had as yet sprung up alongside that of the veteran 
fathers of the Danish Mission. In the Kanarese country there 
was only the solitary station of Bellary, and that had been 
founded in 1812. In Bombay the first missionaries of a 
non-English Society, the American Board, had after great 
anxiety just managed to obtain a foothold. The only seed 
which appeared to be sprouting hopefully was the work of the 
Ringeltaube in Southern Travancore. 2 

Change in the Company’s Attitude to Missionary Enterprise: 
this slow growth of missionary enterprise prior to 1813 

Zl m o, S T raI CauSCS ’ the most important of which was 
probably the hostile attitude of the East India Company. 

shown already in Section 2 supra, the attitude of the Com- 
3 M.A. Sherring: op . c/7., p. 71. 

J.A. Richter: op . c/7., p. 49. 



pany was generally favourable to missionary enterprise prior i 
to 1765. But a change began to come about as soon as the Com- 
pany became a political power in India. The acquisition of 
sovereignty made the Company conscious of the political im- 
portance of maintaining strict religious neutrality and this 
realisation made it abandon all its earlier inclinations towards 
proselytization and to lose all its former sympathy for missionary 
enterprise. As the Company’s empire began to grow, it became 
more and more particular to maintain religious neutrality and 
to sever all connection with missionary enterprise. Incidents 
like that of the Sepoy Mutiny at Vellore strengthened these ideas * 
and by about 1800, the East India Company became a staunch 
opponent of all attempts at proselytization and tried to keep the 
missionaries out of its territories as far as possible. In the same 
way, the adoption of the Orientalist policy in education between 
1781 and 1791 deprived the mission schools of the sympathy and 
support of the Company which they had enjoyed so far. 

The missionaries did not like these changes and began to 
criticise the new policies and to plead for a return to the old days. 
As early as in 1793, when the Charter of the Company came up 
for renewal, Wilberforce moved the following Resolution in the 
House of Commons: 

That it is the peculiar and bounden duty of the British 
Legislature' to promote by all just and prudent means the interest 
and happiness of the inhabitants of the British Dominions in 
India; and that for these ends such measures ought to be 
adopted as may gradually tend to their advancement in 
useful knowledge and to their religious and moral 
improvement. 1 

But Wilberforce realised that a pious resolution like this had 
no administrative value; and hence he proposed to insert a clause 
in the Company’s Charter to the effect that 

the Court of Directors of the Company shall be empowered 
and commissioned to nominate and send out from time to 
time sufficient number of skilled and suitable persons who shall 
1 J.A. Richter: op. c/7., p. 149, 



attain the aforesaid object by serving as schoolmasters, missio- 
naries, or otherwise. 1 

The Court of Directors opposed this violently. They had now 
fully realised the importance of the policy of religious neutrality 
in consolidating their empire in India and also knew that the 
missionary with his excessive zeal for conversions invariably got 
into trouble with the Indian people. Nor were they apparently 
anxious to undertake the duty of educating the Indian people 
even apart from giving them religious guidance as desired by 
Wilberforce. For political and financial reasons, therefore, they 
urged that “the Hindus had as a good system of faith and of 
morals as most people and that it would be madness to attempt 
* their conversion or to give them any more learning or any other 
description of learning than what they already possessed,” 2 
and the proposal of Wilberforce was negatived by Parliament. 

This defeat gave a great set-back to missionary enterprise. The 
Company’s position on the missionary issue was now greatly 
strengthened and it began to put all possible obstacles in the 
path of the missionaries who worked in its dominions. This 
active hostility of the Company enraged the missionaries who, 
in their turn, began to criticise, not only the anti-missionary 
policy of the Company, but its political and commercial 
undertakings and even the personal conduct of its officials. The 
following passage from Richter will give the reader an idea of 
the nature of such criticism: 

Further, the English officials had, almost without exception, 
abandoned the principles of Christian morality. Even a 
Governor-General like Warren Hastings and his inconvenient 
rival, Philip Francis, were not ashamed to live in open adultery. 
Their sole connection with the Church was that once a year, at 
Christmas or at Easter, they attended divine service in great 
state. . . . Over-zealous Orientalists, moreover, sang the praises 
of the religions of the East, especially of the then newly dis- 
covered Indian religions and systems of philosophy, and even 
if every one did not go so far as to declare them to be better 

1 Ibid., p . 150. 

2 Selections from Educational Records, Vol. I, p. 17. 



nn d truer than Christianity, still the general opinion was that they 
auite good enough for the Hindus, and better adapted to 
Iheir necessities than Western forms of religion. Besides all this 
the Company took up the narrow-minded point of view that it 
would have no European within its territories who was not 
engaged in its service or who did not hold its passport; if any 
such person were allowed, he would probably enter into busi- 
ness relationships behind its back and thus lessen its gains, or 
he might talk about its methods of colonial government on his 
return home, and there were many things which there was every 
reason to keep concealed from European eyes and ears. 1 

The relations between the missionaries and the officials of the 
Company became, therefore, extremely strained after 1793. 

It may be said without fear of exaggeration that, between 1793 
and 1813, the Company did not ordinarily issue a permit to any • 
missionary to work within its territories, expelled' several mission- 
aries as soon as they became active and tried to convert people, 
put every obstacle possible in the way of the missionaries, and 
did not give any assistance even to mission schools. In India, the 
missionaries were powerless to fight against this policy. They 
and their friends, therefore, began an intensive agitation in 
1 England with the object of persuading Parliament to legislate 
on the matter and give the necessary freedom and assistance to , 
missionaries. The foremost among those who thus agitated was 4 
Charles Grant— the father of modern education in India. 

Grant’s Observations; The ideas of Charles Grant on the subject 
of the education ^ the Indian people were typically missionary 
and can be best illustrated by quotations from his Observations on 
the State of Society among the Asiatic subjects of Great Britain, 
particularly with respect to morals', and the means of improving it. 
The first point in his thesis was to make the English people realise 
the utterly immoral and wretched condition of Indian Society. 
He wrote: 

In the worst parts of Europe there are i no doubt a great 
number of men who are sincere, upright and conscientious. In 
\T- A. Richter: op. cit., p. 132- 


Bengal, a man of real veracity and integrity is a great phenomenon; 
one conscientious in the whole of his conduct, it is to be feared, 
is an unknown character .... Power entrusted to a native of 
Hindoostan seldom fails of being exercised tyrannically, or 
perverted to the purpose of injustice. Official or ministerial 
employments of all sorts, and in all gradations are generally 
used as means of peculation. . . . The distribution of justice. . . 
has commonly become a traffic in venality; the best cause 
being obliged to pay for success, and the worst having the 

opportunity of purhcasing it Such is the power^f^money, 

th 3L n o crime is more frequent, hardly any less thought ofjffian 
* • 'Ti^a-pathy w hh which a Hindoo views all persons 
and interests unconnected with himself, i s s uch as excites 
the indignation of Europeans. . . . Patriotism is absolutely 
unknown in Hindoostan. 1 

Can all this be literally true? Admittedly, the state of affairs 
was not quite happy in those last decades of the eighteenth 
cen ^ r ^ when the whole country was in the grip of the anarchy 
that followed the decay of the Mughal Empire. “It was a period 
when life and property were always in danger and when it was 
risky to confide even in one’s dearest friend or relation; when 
learning was at a discount, appalling ignorance and superstition 
prevailed in the land, and the people were harassed by thugs, 
pindarees or mercenaries in alien employment”. 2 Even after- 
making due allowance for this unhappy background, one cannot 
but feel that Grant is exaggerating the evils. It is the more easy 
to think so because such keen observers as Elphinstone, Munro 
and Metcalfe who came in contact with ajl sections of Indian 
society have nowhere expressed a wholesale condemnation of the 
morals of the average Indian. One may, however, pardon 
Grant’s exaggerations because his motives were honourable and 
his exaggeration of the existing conditions was solely due to his 
a ?. xiet y to awaken an apathetic British public to a realisatiorTof 
the extreme urgency for organising the education of the Indian 

After having painted this exaggerated picture of the depraved 

1 M.R. Paranjpe : A Source Book of Modern Indian Education , pp. viii-ix. 

■' % ibid , p. viii, 


condition of the Indian Society, Grant proceeds to analyse 
its causes and to suggest a remedy. According to Grant, the 
causes of the miserable condition of the Indian people were two: 
ig norance an d want of a proper religion. He, therefore, felt, that 
■the situation could only be improved if Indians were first educated ■ 
andTTnally converted to Christianity. He said: 

The true cure of darkness is the introduction of light. The 
Hindoos err, because they are ignorant; and their errors have 
ffeveF Iafrly been laid before them. The communication of our 
light and knowledge to them, would prove the best remedy for 
thelr disorders; and this remedy is proposed, from a full convic- 
tion that if judiciously and patiently applied, it would have 
great and happy effects upon them, effects honourable and 
advantageous for us. 1 

The question naturally arose: What should be the medium 
through which this Western light and knowledge should be com- 
municated to the Indian people? Grant suggested that the English 
language should be adopted as themedium of instruction. He 

There are two ways of making this communication: the one 
is, by the medium of the languages of those countries; the other 
is, by the medium of our own. In general, when foreign 
teachers have proposed to instruct the inhabitants of any country, 
they~ have used the Vernacular tongue of that people, for a 
natural and necessary reason, that they could not hope to make 
any other means of communication intelligible to them. This 
is not our case in respect of our Eastern dependencies. They 
are our own, we have possessed them long; many English- 
men reside among the Natives, our language is not unknown 
there, and it is practicable to diffuse it more widely. The 
choice, therefore, of either mode, lies open to usy and we are at 
liberty to consider which is entitled to preference. . . . 

The acquisition of a foreign language is, to men of cultivated 
minds, a matter of no great difficulty. English teachers could, 
therefore, be sooner qualified to offer instruction in the native 
! Syed Mahmood; History of English Education in India , p. 11* 



education becomes a state responsibility 


languages, than the Indians would be prepared to receive it in 
ours. This method would hence come into operation more 
speedily than the other; and it would also be attended with the 
advantage of a more careful selection of the matter of instruc- 
tion. But it would be far more confined and less effectual; it 
may be termed a species of deciphering. The decipherer is 
required to unfold, in intelligible words, what was before hidden. 
Upon every new occasion, he has a similar labour to perform, 
and the information obtained from him is limited to the single 
communication then made. All other writings, in the same 
character still remain, to those who are ignorant of it, unknown; 
but if they are taught the character itself, they can at once read 
every writing in which it is used. Thus superior in point of 
ultimate advantage does the employment of the English language 
appear; and upon this ground, we give a preference to that 
mode, proposing here, that the communication of our knowledge 
shall be made by the medium of our own language. 

We proceed, then, to observe, that it is perfectly in the power 
of this country, by degrees, to impart to the Hindoos our lang- 
uage; afterwards, through that medium, to make them acquaint- 
ed with our easy literary compositions, upon a variety of 
subjects; and, let not the idea hastily excite derision, pro- 
gressively with the simple elements of our arts, our philosophy, 
and religion. These acquisitions would silently undermine, 
and at length subvert, the fabric of error; and all the objections 
that may be apprehended against such a change, are, it is 
confidently believed, capable of a solid answer. . . . 

It would be extremely easy for Government to establish, at a 
moderate expense, in various parts of the provinces, places of 
gratuitous instruction in reading and writing English; multitudes, 
especially of the young, would flock to them and the easy books 
used in teaching, might at the same time convey obvious truths 
on different subjects. The teachers should be persons of know- 
ledge, moials, and discretion; and men of this character could 
impart to their pupils much useful information in discourse; 
and to facilitate the attainment of that object, they might, at 
first make some use of the Bengalese tongue. The Hindoos 
* would, in time, become teachers of Englsh themselves; and the 
employment of our language in public business, for which ever^ 

political reason remains in full force, would, in the course of 
another generatton, make it very general throughout the 
country. There is nothing wanting to the success of this plan, 
but the hearty patronage of Government. If they wish it to 
succeed, it can and must succeed. The introduction of English 
in the Administration of the Revenue, in Judicial proceedings, 
and in other business of Government, wherein Persian is now 
used; and the establishment of free schools, for instruction in 
this language, would insure its diffusion over the country, for 
the reason already suggested that the interest of the Natives 
would induce them to acquire it. Neither would much confusion 
arise, even at first, upon such a change; for there are now a 
great number of Portuguese and Bengalese clerks in the provinces, 
who understand both the Hindoostanny and English languages. 
To employ them in drawing up petitions to Government, or its 
officers, would be no additional hardship upon the poorer 
people, who are now assisted in that way by Persian clerks; 
and the opportunity afforded to others who have sufficient 
leisure, of learning the language of the Government gratuitously, 
would be an advantage never enjoyed under Mahomedan 

With our language, much of our useful literature might, and 
would, in time. Be communicated. The art Qf printing would 
enable us to disseminate our writings in a way the Persians 
never could have done, though their compositions had been as 
numerous as ours. Hence the Hindoos would see the great use J 
we make of reason on all subjects, and in all affairs; they also I 
would learn to reason, they would become acquainted with the i 
history of their own species, the past and present state of the 
world; their affections would gradually become interested by 
various engaging works, composed to recommend virtue, and 
to deter from vice; the general mass of their opinions would be ; 
rectified; and above all, they would see a better system of 
principles and morals. New views of duty, as rational crea- I 
tures, would open upon them; and that mental bondage in which j 
they have long been holden would gradually dissolve . 1 

Regarding the, subjects of instruction, s^me suggestions of 
ls yed Mahmood ; op. eft., pp. 11 - 13 , 




Grant can be noted in the passage, quoted above. In addition 
to these. Grant suggested that special emphasis should be laid 
on the teaching of natural sciences in order to break down the 
superstitious beliefs prevalent among the people and on the 
teaching of the use of mechanical inventions in order to bring 
about agricultural and industrial development of the country, 
t However, the m ost precious subject of instruction, according to 
Grant, was the Christian religion ™ 

After putting forward this scheme for the education of the 
Indian people. Grant proceeded to answer some of the probable 
objections that would be raised against it. The first and the 
foremost objection was that English education was politically 
dangerous and that if the Indian people were taught the English 
language and ideas, they would rise up in a revolt, cast off their 
subjection and assert their independence. Grant was not frightened 
of such a contingency and would not agree to keep the Indian 
people in ignorance with a view merely to perpetuating their 
slavery. He^felt that it was the clear duty of England to educate 
Indians. He also hefd that it^was re ally i n the best interests of 
England he rself to educate the Hindus and Muslims. Such 
ed ucation would bring about better understanding between the 
r ulers., aadJ h&^eX : ^ould secure the gratiti^^Xr^ Indian 
people, and would ultinjately lead to greater extension of JBritish 
commerce in India. He was, therefore, of the opinion that no 
misgivings should be allowed to come in the way and that, on 
grounds of duty as well as of self-interest, the English people 
should organise the education of the Indians on as large a scale 
as possible. 

Criticism of Grant’s Proposals: On the whole, Grant’s book is 

not pleasant to lead. A large part of it is taken up by the 
delineation of the Indian Society of the period and the exaggera- 
tions and the one-sfded approach of this description rob jt jdike 
of historical and educational value. In the same way, n o Ind ian 
would agree to Grant’s view that mass conversions to Christianity 
alone could regenerate Indian Society. Similarly, Grant’s view 
that the spread of English education would slowly but necessarily 
make the Indian people accept Christianity has also been dis- 
approved by the history of the last one hundred and fiftyjears. 


Finally, no importance j;an now be attached to the long and 
elaborate discussions whereJGrant advances ridiculous arguments 
to shpwlhat no po]itical_dangers can follow from English educa- 
tion or proselytization. Some of these arguments, for instance, 
jjjef “Christian teachin^^favours submission and .good order 
among. the people”; ‘ ‘ Christ ianity cannot overcome the debilitat- 
ing^eifepts of . an Eastern climate’’; “Vegetable diet and absence 
ofmaritime taste among the Hindu s will check ardent designs of 
independence”; “Political liberty cannot flourish among the 
timid submissive people of India”, etc. 1 

"But the s uggestions o f Grant regarding the organisation ofjthe 
education of the Indian people are of great historical interest. It 
is very significant that, e ygn as early as in 1792, Grant foresaw 
the future developments jry In d i an ed ucation so clearly. He 
suggested the adoption^of English as the. language of Government 
— a decision which was ultimately taken by Bentinck about forty 
vearTIaterT He also suggested the adoption of English as a 
medium of instruction— an educationally unsound but curiously 
prophetic proposal that was accepted later on through the able 
advocacy of Macaulay. He correctly diagnosed the eageriyss of 
the Indian people to learn the English language and rightly fore- 
told that multitudes of the young would flock to the English 
schools and that Indians themselves would, in course of time* be 
UacSkrs of English. It is because of these practical and prophetic 
suggestions that Grant’s book still retains its interest and it is 
because of them that Grant is sometimes described as the father 
of modern education in India. 

In educating contemporary English opinion on the subject and 
in making Parliament realise the urgent necessity of organising 
thjy^education of the" Indian people, ^ Observations played a 
very important role. The book was published in 1797 and its 
copies were broadcast. Friends of the missionaries made it the 
basis of their agitation and argued that the Company was follow- 
ing a wrong and an un-Christian policy in refusing to allow 
missionaries to work in its territories. The prestige of Grant as 
one who had known India at first hand, as an influential Director 
of the Company, and a Member of Parliament lent weight to the 
book and ultimately paved the way for the educational clauses 

*Syed Mahmood: op. cit. t pp. 216-18. 



of the Charter Act of 1813. 

Agitation by Company’s Officials: Minto's Minute : While the 
missionaries were thus agitating in England for a change in the 
Company’s educational policy, the officials of the Company in 
India were also agitating for a bolder move in expanding Oriental 
education. They felt that the maintenance of the Calcutta 
Madrassah and the Banaras Sanskrit College was like a drop in 
the ocean; they grieved at the decay into which Hindu and 
■ Muslim learning had fallen and asked for larger funds and a 
more vigorous drive to revive and improve the classical learning 
of this ancient country. As a typical statement on the subject, 
a reference may be made to the Minute of Lord Min to who was 
the Governor-General of India from 1806 to 1813. Minto was 
personally an admirer of Oriental Literature and felt that its 
study would be useful to the Western nations themselves. He 
was, therefore, very anxious that Englishmen should give all 
possible encouragement to the study and preservation of Indian 
Culture. In a Minute, dated 6th March 1811, he wrote: 

It is a common remark that science and literature are in a 
progressive state of decay among the natives of India. From 
every inquiry which I have been enabled to make on this 
interesting subject, that remark appears to me but too well 
founded. The number of the learned is not only diminished, 
but the circle of learning, even among those who still devote 
themselves to it, appears to be considerably contracted. The 
abstract sciences are abandoned, polite literature neglected, and 
no branch of learning cultivated but what is connected with the 
peculiar religious doctrines of the people. The immediate 
consequence of this state of things is the disuse, and even 
actual loss, of many valuable books; and it is to be appre- 
hended that, unless Government interfere with a fostering hand, 
the revival of letters may shortly become hopeless from a want 
of books, or of persons capable of explaining them. 

The principal cause of the present neglected state of litera- 
ture in India is to be traced to the want of that encouragement 
which was formerly afforded to it by princes, chieftains, and 
opulent individuals under the native governments. Such 

encouragement must always operate as a strong incentive 
study and literary exertions, but especially in India, where the 
learned professions have little, if any other, support. . . . 

It is seriously to be lamented that a nation particularly 
distinguished for its love and successful cultivation of 
letters in other parts of the empire should have failed to extend 
its fostering care to the literature of the Hindoos, and to aid in 
opening to the learned in Europe the repositories of that 
literature. 1 

The officials of the Company, therefore, tried to pull exactly 
in the opposite direction and a violent controversy ensued bet- 
ween the friends and supporters of the Missions on the one hand 
and the Orientalists or Company’s officials on the other. 

The Charter Act of 1813: It was against such a background that 
the Charter of the Company came up for renewal in 1813. Among 
others, the most important educational issues discussed on this 
occasion were the following: 

(а) Should missionaries be allowed to go to India and work 
in the territories of the Company for the education and 
proselytization of the Indian people? 

(б) Should the Company accept responsibility for the educa- 
tion of the Indian people? If it should, what should be 
the nature and scope of its educational activities? 

On the first of these issues, the missionaries and their friends 
scored a clean victory. As Richter observes: 

The 13th Resolution, the one in which the whole missionary 
question was really involved, ran as follows: ‘Resolved, that it 
is the opinion of this Committee that it is the duty of Jthis 
country to promote the interests and happiness of the native 
inhabitants of the British dominions in India, and that 
measures ought to be adopted as may tend to the introduction 
among them of useful knowledge and moral improvement. TJiat 

1 Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Affairs 
of the East India Company (1832), Appendix 1, pp. 325-27, 

56 . a students 4 history of Education in iNDIa 

i ^furtherance of the^above objects sufficient facilities shall be 
afforded by law to persons desirous of going to, or remaining 
in, India for the purpose of accomplishing those ben evolent 
designs*. That meant that the missionaries were to be allowed 
to enter India and to reside there; they might preach, found 
j churches, and discharge all spiritual duties; in a word, they 
i might fulfil their missionary calling in its completest and widest 
i sense. . * , 1 

On the second issue, the principal opposition to acceptance of 
responsibility came from the Directors. In those days, education 
was not reg arded as a responsibility of the State even in Engla nd; 
and very naturally, the East India Company was not prepared 
to accept it in India. Secondly, the ^ompany w^ 
more bj/ financial than by philanthropic motives and resisted all 
attempts toincrease obligations having a tendency to cut down 

..... . ^ .<= . . V ... ' . . ti ^ v .„ , rl s ■ 

the dividends. Thirdly, the people of India , themselves were 
mosf apathetic in the matter. Oppressed by the anarchy that 
followed the decay of the Moghal Empire, their one great need 
was the establishment of law and order and they hardly had the 
time or energy to ask for anything else from their rulers. The 
task of makingjhe Company accept responsibility for the educa7 
tion of the Indian people was, therefore, far from easy. BllT the 
# opponents of the mission clauses ^ fifan urgent need of creating a 
povrerTufand rival agency in Indian" education to counteract the 
results of missionary enterprise. They, therefore, moved and 
successfully carried through a resolution which subsequently 
became the 4jrd Section in the Charter. It is quoted below: 

It shall be lawful for the Governor-General in Council to 
direct that out of any surplus which may remain of the rents, 
revenues, and profits arising from the said territorial acquistions, 
after defraying the expenses of the military, civil and commercial 
establishments and paying the interest of the debt, in manner 
J hereinafter provided, a sum of not less than one lac of rupees in 
\ each year shall be set apart and applied to the revival and 
| improvement of literature and the encouragement of the learned 
j natives of India and for the introduction and promotion of a 
11 J. A. Richter: op. cit., pp. 150-51, 

education becomes a state Responsibility 57 

knowledge of the science among the inhabitants of the British 
territories in India. 1 

The sponsors of this Section were obviously influenced by , 
the Oriental School of thought because they spoke of the revival 
and improvement of literature (which referred to the Classical 
literatures in Sanskrit or Arabic) and of encouragement of the 
learned natives of India . But they were also anxious to teach 
western science because the Indian people of this period were 
most ignorant in them and desired that attempts should be made 
to promote a knowledge of the sciences among the inhabitants 
of the British territories in India . The p rincipal implication of 
t hj s clause w as that the Company would create its own agency to 
spend this amount of a lakh of rupees and try to educate the' • 
peop le o fTndia in a secular and conservative fashion as opposed to 
th ej)roselytiz ing and revolutionary proposals of the missionaries. 
The supporters of this resolution believed that “by fostering 
both Oriental and Occidental science. . . a reliable counterpoise, 4 
a protecting breakwater against the threatened deluge of* 
missionary enterprise” 2 would be created. They little dreamed 
t hat this Section o f the^Act was laying the foundation of a state 
e ducational sy stem iti . ^ inJ^T which would fuse both the Govern- 
me nt and missionary schools into a common structure in due 

Th e Charter Act of 1813. therefore, forms a turning point in 
the history of Indian, edu^ion. With-it, the agitation which * 
Grant and Wilberforce carried on for nearly twenty years came 
to a successful conclusion; v the education of the Indian people 
w li^J n iielx included within the duties of the Company; a 

annually secured for educational n 
and missionaries began to land in India in large num- 
bers and establish English schools, thereby laying the foundation 
the modern educational system. 

H. Sharp: op. cit., p. 22. 
f-A. Richter: op. cit , p. 152. 

Chapter Three 

Official Experiments in Education 


General Features of the Period: The forty years between the 
Charter Act of 1813 which merely compelled the East India 
Company to accept responsibility for the education of the Indian 
people and the Despatch of 1854 which prescribed an educational 
policy for India in detail, form the second important period in 
the history of education in India during the British Rule. The 
main events of 'this period will be narrated in this and the follow- 
ing chapters; but in order to understand them in their proper 
perspective, it is necessary to study some important general fea- 
tures of this period. 

vfa) Tffi^eriod was mainly one of conquest and consolidation 

of the British power in India. The attention of the Court of 

Directors or of Parliament was, therefore, focused, throughout 
this period, on political issues such as the relations with Indian 
Princes, waging of wars and signing of treaties, and the setting 
up of a police and military administration in the newly conquered 
areas with a view to maintaining law and order. Education was, 
therefore, a back-bench subject which came up for discussion at 
infrequent intervals and which was allotted oply a meagre portion 
of the total administrative expenditure. This general neglect of 
Indian education by the Court of Directors and Parliament is the 
principal cause of its jdow progress. 

v (6) Another feature of this period which deserves notice is the 
absence ojjeducatiom^ with the problems of Indian edu- 

cation. The Education Departments did not exist at the time — 
they were created only in 1854. The problems of Indian educa- 
tion were, therefore, dealt with, as they arose, by the Governors- 
General or Governors or by the members of the Education 



Boards, Councils and Committees which came to be set up. These 
were mostly military or civil officers who had no professional 
training and very often, not even an aptitude for education. 
Some of them, it is true, were men of wide sympathies and a 
humane culture and, with their robust common sense, laid down 
such broad-based and unerring educational policies as might do 
credit to any professional educationist. But these exceptions only 
prove the rule and it cannot be gainsaid that, throughout this 
period, the educational problems of India were mostly handled 
by an jRl e ti rs r r~t he c ivil and military officers of the Company — 
working in an honorary capacity. The benefits of a professional- 
ly trained and wholetime bureaucracy were denied to education 
during this period and this is one of the principal reasons why 
the educational controversies of this period were so bitter, so pro- 
tracted and so often wrongly decided. 

vXc) The third feature Js the extremely minor role played by 
Indians in bui lding up the new system of education in this 
period. At the policy-drafting level, the voice of Indians hardly 
mattered. It is true that men like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, 
Ishvarachandra Vidyasagar or Jagannath Shankarset did partici- 
pate in policy-drafting and, in some matters, even succeeded in 
winning a point or two. But in spite of such instances, it would 
still Tie correct to say that, prior to 1854, educational policies in 
India were discussed or decided almost exclusively by officials of 
the Company or the missionaries. This could hardly be helped 
because thenumber of educated Indians (i.e., educated in accor- 
dance with the modern system) was very small and an enlightened 
Indian opinion had not ye.t ^cojna^^gsijstence. 

(d) The fourth feature of this period is the existence of a large 
number of controversies. In fact, itjmay even be described as a 
period of controversies rather than of achievements. This un- 
happy result was partly due to the three features already describ- 
ed and partly to the vagueness of the Charter Act of 1813 itself. 
The framers of this Act had no precedent to follow because, at 
this time, even England did not have either an Education Depart- 
ment or a State policy in education. They, therefore, contented 
themselves by stating the objects of the educational policy in 
ndia, viz., “the revival and improvement of literature”, “the en- 
couragement of the learned natives of India”, and “the introduc- 




tion and promotion of a knowledge of sciences among the inhabi- 
tants of British territories in India”; but they gave no directions 
regarding the methods to be employed to secure these objects. It 
was but natural, therefore, that controversies should arise on the 
subject, and the events of the forty years following the Charter 
Act of 1813, showed that controversies arose round four main 
issues, viz. , the o bjects of edu cational jpoiiev. t he me dium of 
i nstructi on, th ^ agencies for organising educational institutions, 
and Xi^jnethods to be adopted to spread education among the 

Regarding of educational policy, the controversies 

were not serious and referred mainly to the emphasis to be laid 
on the different objectives of educational effort. One school of 
thought talked of the duty of England to educate its Indian sub- 
jects; another school emphasized the introduction and spread of 
western literature and science among the Indian people as of para- 
mount importance; and a third school spoke mainly of the utili- 
tarian objective of training Indians to hold subordinate positions 
in the Company’s service. 

Reg ardin g the agencies to be utilised for organising educational 
institutions, opinions differed considerably. Some favoured en- 
couragement of missionary enterprises on the analogy of Parlia- 
mentary grants to the voluntary schools in England. Others 
objected to this proposal on political grounds and on the principle 
of religious neutrality — because the missionaries aimed at conver- 
sions, first and foremost — and recommended the encouragement 
of indigenous schools conducted by the Indian people themselves. 
A third point of view condemned the indigenous schools as in- 
efficient and incapable of improvement and recommended the 
establishment of new schools which should have properly trained 
teachers and which should work under the direct control of the 

On the subject of the methods to be adopted to spread educa- 
tion among the people, opinion was divided between two schools 
of thought. One school believed that education always filters 
down to the masses from the upper classes. It, therefore, felt 
that the Company need only educate the upper classes of society 
and leave it to them to spread education among the masses. This 
was the famous downward filtration theory. The other school 

felt that the downward filtration theory would not work in India 
and recommended that the Company should make direct attempts 
to_educate the masses. 

The most violent controversies, however, broke out on the 
subject of the medium of instruction. Here the opinion was divid- 
ed ambng three schools:~~ 


tO The first school consisted of the older officials of the 
Company in Bengal who generally believed that the policy of 
Warren Hastings and Minto was the last word on educational 
statesmanship. They advocated the encouragement of Sanskrit 
and Arabic studies and suggested that Western science and know- 
ledge should be spread in Ind*a through the medium of these 

s/(ii) The second school consisted of men like Munro and 
Elphinstone who believed in encouraging education through the 
medium of the modern India languages. They argued that this 
was the only vay in which Western knowledge could reach the 
mass of the people. 

y(z7/) The third school consisted of persons who believed in the 
wisdom of Grant’s advice and advocated the spread of 
Western knowledge through the medium of English. This 
school included the missionaries and the younger civilians in the 
employment of the Company. Their voice, though insignificant 
during the earlier period, became of paramount importance at a 
later date, when Macaulay came to India and assumed their 
leaers hip. 

It must be noted that all these controversies and schools of 
thought were found mostly among the European officials of the 
Company. Indian opinion was, at this time, almost non-existent. 
In the first place, the number of Indians who could take 
part in discussions regarding educational policies was extremely 
small; secondly, the few Indians who had the authority and 
influence to speak on this subject generally followed one or 
other of the groups among the European officers and were; 
not as yet able to chalk out any policy of thier own; and’ 
lastly Indian opinion wielded no influence/ with the Company i 
and educational policies were made and unmade according to the] 

62 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

rise or fall of the parties among the European servants of the 
Company alone. 

As may be anticipated, the only authority which could silence 
these controversies was that of the Court of Directors. Had 
they given a definite ruling on the subject, all the servants 
of the Company would have been compelled to accept it and 
the development of education in India would have been more 
rapid and harmonious. But prior to 1853, the Directors 
seemed unwilling to come to a definite decision. In effect, they 
agreed with each school and differed from all. This policy, 
or the lack of one, has been often ascribed to indifference; 
but this conclusion does not appear to be fair. We would rather 
attribute it to a desire on the Directors’ part to give a trial 
to every method. The Despatch of 1854, however, gave a 
definite ruling on all these controversies and settled them almost 

^(e) One more general feature of this period may be noted here. 
This was, first and foremost, a period of experiments. The East 
India Company was new to problems of Indian education and, 
therefore, was trying to arrive at a workable formula through the 
usual method of trial and error . The Court of Directors kept 
an open mind on the subject and, in the initial stages, sanctioned 
every proposal that came up. We, therefore, find different edu- 
v cational experiments going on simultaneously in India — Thomason 
I trying to bulid up a system of mass education in North-Western 
; Province on the foundation of the indigenous schools, while the 
Bombay Board of Education condemned the indigenous schools 
and tried to build up a network of official schools instead; Bengal 
was neglecting the Indian languages and adopting English as a 
medium of instruction when Bombay was making an attempt to 
give even the highest education through the mother-tongue of the 
students; and so on. On a superficial view, these appear as con- 
tradictory policies; but such experimentation was definitely essen- 
* tiah It helped materially in coming to final decisions on contro- 
versial issues. 

t It is against this background of general apathy, amateurish 
handling of problems, the utter neglect (or rather, absence) of 
an Indian viewpoint and complete domination by certain 
controversies that the first experiments of the Company to 


create an educational system for India are to be interpreted and 
understood . 

Official Efforts in India (1813-23): With these introductory re- 
marks, we will turn to the narration of the events of the period 
under review. We shall first describe the ojffici a_ 1 efforts oL the 
Company and the n turn t o the non-official efforts— both mission- 
ary and ^non-missionary. 

ST was pointed out in the last chapter, the Court of Directors 
had fought strenuously against the refortns proposed by Wilber- 
force and lost. They were, therefore, none too enthusiastic to 
spend the sum of one lakh of rupees on education as required by 
the Charter Act of 1813. But owing partly to the continuous 
agitation carried on by the missionaries and the Company’s 
officials and partly to the influence of the liberal spirit which 
dominated the English life of this period, the work of organising 
a state system of education was begun almost simultaneously in 
all the three Presidencies by about 1823 and continued to 
expand till 1833 when, following the English example of the 
first Parliamentary grant for education, the educational grant 
oflndia was also increased from one lakh to ten lakhs of rupees 
per annum. 

Official Education Enterprise in India between 1823 and 1853: In 
1853, the British territories in India were divided into five Pro- 
vinces— the Presidencies of Bengal, Bombay, Madras and the 
Provinces of U.P. (then called the North-Western Provinces) and 
the Punjab. The principal landmarks in official educational 
enterprise in India between 1823 and 1853 can, therefore, be con- 
veniently stated .according to Provinces. 

The Presidency of Bengal was the first Province to take up the 
work of educational reorganisation which was made possible by 
the liberal attitude which the Court of Directors adopted by 
about 1823. In a Resolution dated 17th July 1823, the Governor- 
General-in-Council appointed a General Committee of Public 
Instruction for the Bengal Presidency. The Committee consisted 
of ten members and included H. T. Prinsep, who became famous 
biter on by his opposition to Macaulay, and H. H, Wilson who 

64 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

was a great Oriental scholar. The grant of one lakh of rupees 
provided by the Charter Act of 1813 was also placed at the dis- 
posal of the Committee. 

The Committee consisted mostly of persons who were great 
admirers of Sanskrit and Arabic literature and hence the decision 
of the Committee to follow the view of Lord Minto and encour- 
age Oriental Learning can hardly be regarded with surprise. 
Between 1823 and 1833, the Committee 

(a) reorganised the' Calcutta Madrassah and the Banaras 
Sanskrit College; 

(b) established a Sanskrit College at Calcutta in 1824; 

(c) established two more Oriental Colleges at Agra and 

(i d ) undertook the printing and publication of Sanskrit and 
Arabic books on a large scale; and 

(e) employed Oriental scholars to translate English books 
containing useful knowledge into the Oriental classical 

But very soon after its establishment the Committee found that 
its work had roused considerable opposition. The first attack 
came from a few enlightened Indians led b^ Raja Ram Mohan 
Roy. The Raja submitted a memorial to the GovernoMTeneral 
on~~ ljth Decem ber 18 23 and urged that the proposals for 
establishing a Sanskrit College at Calcutta should be abandoned 
and Government should “promote a more liberal and enlightened 
system of instruction; embracing mathematics, natural philo- 
sophy, chemistry, anatomy, with other useful sciences; which 
may be accomplished with the sum proposed by employing a few 
gentlemen of talents and learning educated in Europe and provid- 
ing a college furnished with necessary books, instruments, and 
other apparatus”. 1 This memorial is a good indication of the 
direction in which the wind was beginning to blow and shows 
how the desire for English education was spreading among 
Indians. But no heed was paid to this memorial and the plan 
for establishing the Sanskrit College at Calcutta was carried 

1 Selections from EdueqtiQncd Records , Yol. I, p. 101 


A still more formidable attack on the Committee’s work came 
from the Court of Directors themselves. In a despatch, dated 
18th February 1824, they wrote: 

We apprehend that the plan of the institutions to the im- 
provement of which our attention is now directed was originally 
and fundamentally erroneous. The great end should not have 
been to teach Hindoo learning, but useful learning. No doubt 
inTeacKIng^^^ usefuriearnmg to the Hindoos or Mahomedans, 
Hindoo media or Mahomedan media, so far as they were found 
the jnost effectual, would have been proper to be employed and 
Hindu and Mahomedan prejudices would have needed to be 
consulted while everything which was useful in Hindoo or 
Mahomedan literature it would have been proper to retain; 
nor would there have been any insuperable difficulty in intro- 
ducing under these reservations a system of instruction from 
which great advantage might have been derived. In professing 
on the other hand to establish seminaries for the purpose of 
teaching mere Hindoo or mere Mahomedan literature, you 
bound yourselves to teach a great deal of what was frivolous, 
not a little of what was purely mischievous and a small re- 
mainder indeed in which utility was in any way concerned. 1 

This despatch set the Committee thinking. “The Directors 
urged a bold advance and were backed up, not very zealously, 
by the Governor-General. The Committee, in close touch with 
the majority of public opinion and the view of the pandits , hesi- 
tated to embark on so large a measure of innovation.” 2 It urged 
that the Hindus and Mahomedans still had “vigorous prejudices” 
against European learning, that Oriental literature was not to be ’ 
summarity" condemned and that it had a utility of its own, that 
the use of a classical language as a medium of instruction yras 
unavoidable, that there were neither books nor teachers available 
just then to impart instruction in European sciences through such 
a medium, that the Committee was concentrating on the prepara- 
tion of such books and the training of such teachers, and that, 
ere long, the Directors’ instructions would be fully complied with, 

1 Ibid pp. 91-92. 

2 Ibid., p. 81, 


The plea was accepted by the Directors and the Committee conti- 
nued its work of encouraging classical education. 

But public opinion was rapidly growing in favour of English 
education. Several factors contributed to this end. The work of 
the missionaries had greatly popularised English education. 
Secondly, Indian leaders like Raja Ram Mohan Roy were also 
urging their countrymen to study the language and literature of 
England and through it, to acquire a knowledge of the Western 
sciences. Thirdly, English was growing in political importance 
as the language of the rulers and persons desirous of obtaining 
lucrative posts under Government found that a capacity to speak 
and write English materially helped them in their object. In fact, 
the study of English was rapidly becoming the royal road to a 
black-coated profession with a decent income and an important 
status in society. It is not to be wondered, therefore, if many 
Indians of that generation looked forward to English education as 
a panacea for all their ills. 

This growing demand for English could not, therefore, be long 
neglected by the General Committee of Public Instruction and 
steps had to be taken to meet it to some extent at least. Thus by 
1833, the Committee attached English classes to the College at 
Agra and the Calcutta Madrassah. At Delhi and Banaras, dis- 
trict English schools were established. But these ,half measures 
could hardly be expected to satisfy the public need. In 1823, the 
Committee was perhaps justified in holding on to classical educa- 
tion for fear of offending Indian people. But its persistence in 
this policy in the face of a public demand to the contrary led to 
a split in the Committee itself. Out of the ten members oFthe 
Committee, five supporfed the policy of giving encouragement to 
Oriental literature and were known as the Ori ental j >artv and the 
rest were in favour of the adoption of English as a medium of 
instruction and were known as the English party. The Oriental 
party was led by H. T. Prinsep who was then the Secretary to 
Government of Bengal in the Education Department, and consist- 
ed of the older members of the Company’s service. The English 
party had no definite leader. It consisted mostly of the younger 
servants of the Company who looked forward to the^upport of 
Macaulay who was then the President of the General Committee 
of Public Instruction and the Law Member of the Executive 



Council of the Governor-General. This equal division of 
parties in the Committee made it extremely difficult to^ carry on 
the work of education. There were ‘'recurring and inconvenient” 
. discussions at meetings, and almost every topic that came up for 
discussion got mixed up with these fundamental differences. 
Sometimes no decision could be reached. Very often a decision 
in favour of one party would be reached if any members of the 
opposite side accidentally happened to be absent; and more 
often than not, the decision would be reversed at another meet- 
ing ‘when the former party would happen to be in a minority. 
Evidently, such a state of affairs could not go on for long and 
early in 1835, both the parties in the Committee decided to 
submit their dispute to the Governor-General-in* Council for 

At this distance of time, it is quite unnecessary to enter into all 
the details of the controversy which spread over several years. It 
would sufifice for the purpose of this narrative to state the view 
of the Oriental party which was led by H. T. Prinsep and then to 
present the other side by an analysis of Macaulay’s Minute on 
the subject. 

^{d) The Orientalist View : The most important argument of the 
O riental party centered round the interpretation of the forty- 
thirdTection of the Charter Act of 1813. As has been already 
mentioned, this section directed that a sum of not less than a 
^ a te_9Xj’ ll pees shall be expended every year for “the revival and 
* r ^ I 2 vement literature and the encouragement of the learned 
nat jyes of India, and for the introduction and promotion of a 
knowledge of the sciences among the inhabitants of the British 
territories in India.” With regard to the first two objects men- 
tioned in this section, the Oriental party argued as under: 

The literature meant to be so revived and encouraged was the 
literature of the two great classes of population, the Moosul- 
mans and the Hindus. . . . The revival of literature has been 
promoted by the assistance given to seminaries of education 
previously existing, and by the establishment of fresh, and 

ikewise through the printing and publishing of classical works 
hitherto only to be procured in manuscript. To these objects 
a certain proportion of the funds assigned has been made 





applicable. The encouragement of learned men, the next thing 
indicated, has been effected as well through the support afforded 
them in institutions of education and in the superintendence 
and preparation of works for publication as by other advant- 
ages incident to the system pursued, amongst which not the 
least effectual is the provision for securing prolonged study by 
stipends to promising students. All this has been done for the 
natives and their literature. 1 

As regards the third object, i.e., the introduction and promo- 
tion of a knowledge of the sciences, it was argued that Indians 
had a prejudice against European knowledge and science and 
that they would not accept it at all unless it was presented to 
them through a classical language which they respected and along 
with the culture of their ancestors to which they were passionately 
attached. It was, therefore, suggested that the action of the 
Committee in translating useful books from English into Arabic 
and Sanskrit was perfectly justified. The Oriental party, therefore, 
maintained that their actions were entirely within the Charter 
Act of 1813, and that their policy could not be changed unless 
the Charter Act was amended by Parliament itself. 

Secondly, the Oriental party were extremely keen on preserving 
the existing institutions of Oriental learning which the English 
party proposed to abolish. This was the real question at issue. 
The Oriental party knew the weakness of their case and were 
prepared to accept a compromise by suggesting that Government 
should leave it tp the option of the student to choose whichever 
education he liked, whether classical or English. But they would 
not agree to the idea of closing Oriental institutions. In their 
view, such a step was entirely opposed to the Government policy 
of conciliating the people and would even border on intolerance. 
Prinsep was particularly keen about the Calcutta Madrassah. 
He argued that the Madrassah was 

an endowment made by Warren Hastings more than 50 years 
ago and for the support of which certain funds, v/z., the land 
revenue of the Maddrus Muhal part of which is included in the 
Barrackpore park were specifically assigned. At first, the 
1 Selections from Educational Records, Vol. I, pp. 135-36, 

Institution was left to the uncontrolled management of the 
Moola placed by Mr. Hastings at its head. The Muhal , how- 
ever, was under the Khas management of the Board of Revenue 
and the varying amount realised from it was placed at the 
Moolavee’s disposal. Subsequently the Muhal was made over 
at a fixed Jama to the Raja of Nudeea when he was restored to 
hfs estates of which this formed a part. Except, therefore, that 
the direct management of the lands was not in the hands of the 
Principal and Professors and Fellows of the college this was 
assuredly as complete an Endowment as any of the colleges of 
Oxford and Cambridge or as the Blue Coat School in London 
can boast of. 1 

He, therefore, argued that even if it was decided to close the 
existing Oriental institutions, there were 

many considerations which should protect the Madrusa at least 
from any present demolition. It is the only link through which 
the Government has at present any connection whatsoever 
with the instruction of the Mooslim youth of Bengal. It is not 
one of the passing institutions of recent establishment for the 
support of which funds are assigned from the Parliamentary 
lac of rupees but is on old established college endowed separate- 
ly and efficiently performing the purposes of the endowment. 2 

The other arguments advanced by the Oriental party do not 
amount to much. It was argued, for instance, that Indians could 
never master the English language, that an imposition of the 
English language upon the people would provoke their resentment, 
and so on. These arguments were not likely to convince the 
Government of that time. Indians were giving increasing evid- 
ence of their ability to master the English language, and a Govern 
nor-General like Bentinck, who abolished the cruel custom of Sati, 
would not have been daunted by fear of public resentment from 
carrying out what he thought to be in the interest of the people. 

(b) Macaulay's Minute : Let us now turn to the other side of 
the shield and see how the case of the English party was argued 

1 Selections from Educational Records , Vol. I, p. 199. 

2 ^.,pp. 128-29, 







by Macaulay, He took no part in the controversy at the meetings 
of the General Committee of Public Instruction because he knew 
that the matter would again come before him as a member of the 
Executive Council. So, when the papers dealing with the dispute 
were placed before the Council, he wrote ^ his famous Minute 
regarding the new educational policy ."Ttls "dated^2nd February 
1 835 and is a document of great historicaT importance. 

The first questio n that Macaulay ToS'upnfbr discussion in 
his Minute referred to the interpretation of Section 43 of the 
Charter Act of 1813. Macaulay argued that the word “litera- 
ture” occurring in this section could be interpreted to mean 
English literature, that the epithet of a “learnedfnative of India” 
could also be applied to a person versed in the philosophy of 
Locke or the poetry of Milton, and that the object of promoting 
a knowledge of sciences could only be accomplished by the adop- 
tion of English as the medium of instruction. If this interpreta- 
tion were not accepted, Macaulay was willing to propose an Act 
rescinding Section 43 of the Charter. Obviously, Macaulay is 
treading on slippery ground here. His interpretation is certainly 
far-fetched, if not actually inaccurate. 

Macaulay also differed from the Oriental party regarding the 
continuance of the institutions of Oriental learning. He held the 
view that thej^hould be closed as they did not serve any useful 
purpose. He said: 

The admirers of the Oriental system of education have used 
another argument which, if we admit it to be valid, is decisive 
against all change. They conceive that the public faith is 
pledged to the present system and that to alter the appropriation 
of any of the funds which have hitherto been spent in encourag- 
ing the study of Arabic and Sanskrit would be downright 
spoliation. It is not easy to understand by what process of 
reasoning they can have arrived at this conclusion. The grants 
which are made from the public purse for the encouragement 
of literature differ in no respect from the grants which are 
made from the same purse for other objects of real or supposed 
utility. We found a sanitarium on a spot which we suppose 
to be healthy. Do we thereby pledge ourselves to keep a 
sanatorium there if the result should not answer our expecta- 

tions? We commence the erection of a pier. Is it a violation 
of the public faith to stop the works if we afterwards see reason 
to believe that the building will be useless? 

Macaulay then proceeds to examine the problem of the medium 
of instruction on grounds of expediency or desirability. Obviously, 
Government could have selected any one of three languages: the 
mother-tongue of the people, an oriental classical language, or 
English. It is extremely unfortunate, however, that the claims of 
the mother-tongue were brushed aside by both the parties. For 
instance, Macaulay observed: 

All parties seem to be agreed on one point, that the dialects 
commonly spoken among the natives of this parf of India 
contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are more- 
over so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some 
other quarter, it will riot be easy to translate any valuable 
^ seems to be admitted on all sides, that the 
intellectual improvement of those classes of the people who 
have the means of pursuing higher studies can at present be 
effected only by means of some language not vernacular amongst 

This condemnation of the spoken languages of the people 
naturally left the choice of a medium of instruction between Sans- 
krit and Arabic on the one hand and English on the other. 
Macaulay admittedly did not know either Arabic or Sanskrit but 
he gave it as the considered opinion of Orientalists that “a single 
sh .i lf of a good European library was worth the whole native 
literature of India and Arabia.” And regarding the utility and 
importance of English, he wrote: 

me claims of our own language, it is hardly necessary to 
recapitulate. It stands pre-eminent even among the lang uage 
°f_the West. It abounds with works of imagination not inferi- 
°r to the noblest which Greece has bequeathed to us,— with 
every species of eloquence,— with historical composi- 
tions which, considered merely as narratives, have seldom been 
surpassed, and which, considered as vehicles of ethical and 


political instruction, have never been equalled, with just and 
lively representations of human life and human nature, 
— with the most profound speculations on metaphysics, 
morals, government, jurisprudence, trade— with full and correct 
information respecting every experimental science which tends 
to preserve the health, to increase the comfort, or to expand 
the intellect of man. Whoever knows that language has ready 
access to all the vast intellectual wealth which all the wisest 
nations of the earth have created and hoarded in the course of 
ninety generations. It may safely be said that the literature 
now extant in that language is of greater value than all the 
literature which three hundred years ago was extant in all the 

languages of the world together In India, English is the 

language spoken by the ruling class. It is spoken by the . higher 
class of natives at the seats of Government. It is likely to 
become the language of commerce throughout the seas of the 

r The peroration that follows this eulogy of English is charac- 
\ teristic of Macaulay. With an assuredness that is only equalled 
by his ignorance and in a style that is remarkable for its force, 
he asks: 

The question now before us is simply whether, when it is in 
our power to teach this language, we shall teach languages in 
which by universal confession, there are no books on any 
subject which deserve to be compared to our own, whether, 
when we can teach European science, we shall teach systems 
which, by universal confession, wherever they differ from those 
of Europe differ for the worse, and whether, when we can 
patronise sound philosophy and true history, we shall counten- 
ance, at the public expense, medical doctrines which would 
disgrace an English farrier, astronomy which would move 
laughter in girls at an English boarding school, history 
abounding with kings thirty feet high and reigns thirty thousand 
years long, and geography made of seas of treacle and seas of 

Referring to the question of the alleged prejudices of the Indian 


people against English, education, Maca ulay argued that it was 
t he duty of England to teach Indians what was good for their 
healitf Tand not what was palatable to their taste. Even assuming 
that the taste of the people should be consulted. Macaulay argued 
that Indians had giv^ sufficient evidence of their love for English. 
In support of this, he pointed out that while the Committee of 
Public Instruction was finding it hard to dispose of its oriental 
publications, the English books of the Calcutta School Book Society 
were selling in thousands and bringing in huge profit. He also 
drew attention to the fact that while the students of the Madrassah 
and Sanskrit College had to be paid stipends, the pupils in the 
English schools were prepared to pay for the instruction received 

Regarding the argument that the Sanskrit and Arabic languages 
should be studied as the languages of the law and religion of the 
people, Macaulay pointed out that the best course for Govern- 
ment would be to codify Hindu and Muslim laws in English, and 
not to incur heavy expenditure onthe maintenance of the Oriental 

On these grounds, among others, Macaulay strongly recom- / 
mended that the object of educational policy in India should I 
be the spread of western learning through the medium of the I 
EnglisTlanguage. He also suggested that the existing institutions 
of Oriental learning should be used for the promotion of English 

v tc) Lord William Bentinck accepts the Minute : The arguments 
advanced by Macaulay in support of his view were immediately 
accepted by LorcTWilliam Bentinck who, in his Resolution of 7th 
March 1835, passed the following orders: 

The Governor-General of India in Council has attentively 
considered the two letters from the Secretary to the Committee 
of Public Instruction, dated the 21st and 22nd January last, and 
the papers referred to in them. 

First. His Lordship in Council is of opinion that the great 
object of the British Government ought to be the promotion 
of European literature and science among the natives of India; 
and that all the funds appropriated for the purpose of education 
Would be best employed on English education alone. 


Second . But it is not the intention of His Lordship in 
Council to abolish any College or school of native learning, 
while the native population shall appear to be inclined to 
avail themselves of the advantages which it affords, and His 
Lordship in Council directs that all the existing professors and 
students at all the institutions under the superintendence of 
the Committee shall continue to receive their stipends. . . 
no stipend shall be given to any student that may hereafter 
enter at any of these institutions; and that when any professor 
of Oriental learning shall vacate his situation, the Committee 
shall report to the Government the number and state of the 
class in order that the Government may be able to decide upon 
the expediency of appointing a successor. 

Third . It has come to the knowledge of the Governor- 
General in Council that a large sum has been expended by 
the Committee on the printing of Oriental works; His Lord- 
ship in Council directs that no portion of the funds shall here- 
after be so empolyed. 

Fourth . His Lordship in Council directs that all the funds 
which these reforms will leave at the disposal of the Committee 
be henceforth empolyed in imparting to the native population 
a knowledge of English literature and science through the 
medium of the English language; and His Lordship in Council 
requests the Committee to submit to Government, with 
all expedition, a plan for the accomplishment of this 
purpose. 1 

(d) The importance of this controversy is very often exaggerated. 
We fed that the question under dispute was not one of great 
importance at all and that, as a matter of fact, both the parties 
were in the wrong.Vrhe correct solution of the problem would 
have been to adopi~the Indian languages as the media of 
instruction Jit was a mistake to brush them aside summarily as 
being “ru3e and "poor” and incapable of expressing scientific 
or literary ideas. If the classical party was wrong in fighting for 
the retention of Sanskrit or Arabic as media of instruction 
Macaulay was equally . wrong in suggesting the adoption 
of a foreign language like English as the medium of 
Selections from Educational Records, Vol. I. pp. 130-31* 

official experiments in education . 75 

instruction. In our opinion, a controversy of far greater impor- 
tance is the one that took place in Bombay where the conflict lay 
between Indian languages on the one hand and English on the 

vfe) Macaulay's Contribution to Indian Education : The role of 
Macaulay himself is variously described. Some regard him as a 
to rc h- bearer in the path of progress”; another section, which 
attributes the later discontent and political unrest in India to the 
sp read of English education, blames Macaulay as the cause of 
trouble. Some dislike him for his ignorant and violent con- 
demnation of Indian languages, culture and religion; while others 
blame him for being responsible for the neglect of Indian langu- 
ages that inevitably followed upon the use of English as the 
medium of instruction. 

A closer examination will, however, show that these opinions 
are both incorrect and unfair. To call Macaulay a “torch-bearer 
in the path of progress” gives an exaggerated account of the role 
that he actually played. It must be remembered that Macaulay 
d Q™L create the desire for English education— that desire was 
already there and it had its origin in the material advantages 
which were then inseparably connected with a knowledge of 
English.. He was not even the organiser of the English party, 
because it was already in existence when he arrived in India. In 
fact, when Macaujay came to India in 104, the battle between ^ 

full swing. The people desired \ 
English education and being unable to get it from the Company, 1 
their thirst in the missionary schools. The younger j 
g^eratTon of civilians, led by its zeal for reform, was eager to 
introduce ^ English education. But the rising tide of both 
these^Torces was held in check by the older politicians in 
service who believed that the policy of Hastings and Minto was 
good for all time and who, no doubt, were supported by 
the conservative and reactionary forces among the Indians 
themselves. It was at this time that Macaulay came upon the 
scene to burst upon the locks of conservatism with the power 
°f his rhetoric, and let in the flood of new ideas. Hew as only res- 
ponsible for the quick decision of a controversy that would 
otherwise have dragged on four years but which, nevertheless, 
could never have been decided in favour of classical languages. 


76 a students* history of Education in india 

the medium of instruction in secondary schools. 

One need not, however, object to the generosity of Macaulay’s 
admirers which makes them place him much higher in public 
estimation than he really deserves. But it is certainly to be re- 
gretted that he is condemned unfairly for things for which he was 
really not responsible? Perhaps the only aspect of Macaulay’s 
Minute which can be justly blamed is its condemnation of Oriental 
literature and religion. But now that a hundred years have 
elapsed since those words were written, we cannot do better than 
ignore this part of his writings. After all, his motives were not 
dishonourable and it is always good to forget and forgive. The 
other criticisms on Macaulay are, however, unjustifiable. For 
instance, to blame Macaulay for the neglect of Indian languages 
is not altogether fair. Macaulay was aware of the importance 
of the adoption of Indian languages as media of instruction. But 
be was apparently advised by local persons on both sides of the 
controversy that this was impossible, and he can hardly be blam- 
ed for taking them at their word. 

Perhaps the least charitable are those who condemn him as the 
cause of all the subsequent political discontent. In the first 
place, it is a doubtful issue whether this political agitation could 
not have originated in the absence of English education. But 
even if it was the result of such education, this is a matter of 
which England might well be proud. Itjs^interestiiig to note that 
Macaulay himself had visualized some such result and described 
it as ‘a title to glory' in his speech in the House of Commons on 
the Charter Act of 1833. 1 

(/) The End of the Anglicist-Classicist Controversy in Bengal 
(1839): It would be a mistake, however, to suppose that the con- 
troversy came to an end with the resolution of Bentinck s Govern- 
ment quoted above. It lingered on for about five years and was 
finally closed in a Minute, dated 24th November 1839, by Lord 
Auckland who was then the Governor-General of India. This 
Minute is an important document of the history of Indian educa- 
tion. It deals with several topics but particularly with the Angli- 
cist-Classicist controversy, the recommendations of Adam regard- 
ing the improvement of indigenous education, and the problem of 

1 Padabhai Naoroji: Poverty and Un-British Rule in India , p. 93. 


By 1839, much of- the heat of the conflict had cooled down. 
Macaulay had left India. The Oriental party had come to realise 
the futility of resisting the spread of English and had accordingly 
moderated their demands. They now pleaded only for the conti- 
nuance of the existing institutions of Oriental learning and for 
some funds for publication of valuable Oriental books. The 
ground was, therefore, quite ready for a compromise. When Lord 
Auckland succeeded Lord William Bentinck, the controversy 
seems to have been reopened in some form or other, perhaps 
with considerable bitterness on both sides. But Lord Auckland 
shrewdly guessed the real cause of the conflict and put an end to 
the controversy. One cannot do better than to allow Lord 
Auckland himself to explain his diagnosis of the trouble: 

I may observe that it may in my opinion be clearly admitted, 
and I am glad from the papers before me to see that this 
opinion is supported by the authority of Mr. Prinsep, that the 
insufficiency of the funds assigned by the state for the purposes 
of public instruction has been amongst the main causes of the 
violent disputes which have taken place upon the education 
question, and that if the funds previously appropriated to the 
cultivation of Oriental literature had been spread, and other 
means placed at the disposal of the promoters of English edu- 
cation, they might have pursued their object aided by the good 
wishes of all. In the Bengal] Presidency, with its immense 
territory and a revenue of about 13 millions, the yearly expen- 
diture of the Government on this account is little in excess of 
£24,000 or Rs. 2,40,000, and I need not say how in a coun- 
try like India, it is to the Government that the population 
must mainly look for facilities in the acquisition of improved 
learning. . . . The sum immediately at command was limited. 
Parties wishing to promote the diffusion of knowledge in dif- 
ferent forms contended eagerly, the one to retain, the other to 
gain, that sum for the schemes to which they were respectively 
favourable, and had fresh sums been at once procurable, no 
one might have objected to their employment for a full and fair 
experiment on the new ideas which began to prevail. The 
inference to which I would point from these facts and observa- 
tions is that a principle of wise liberality, not stinting any 


object which can reasonably be recommended, but granting a 
measured and discriminating encouragement to all, is likely to 
command general acquiescence, and to obliterate, it may be 
hoped, the recollection of the acrimony which has been so pre- 
judicial to the public weal in the course of past proceedings. 1 

The obvious remedy was to assign additional funds so as to 
satisfy both the parties and that was precisely the step taken by 
Lord Auckland. He passed orders which 

(/) guaranteed the continuation of the existing institutions of 
Oriental learning and the payment of adequate grants for 
entertainment of “the most eminent professors” and 
adequate scholarships to students; 

(//) encouraged the preparation and publication of useful 
books of instruction in Oriental languages provided that 
the expenditure was kept within limits of the funds sanc- 
tioned for Oriental education; and 
(///) also directed that the first duty of the Oriental Colleges 
was to impart instruction in Oriental learning and that 
they may conduct English classes, if necessary, after that 
duty had been properly discharged. 

As may be easily imagined, these orders fully satisfied the 
Oriental party. The entire additional cost of the above proposals 
was about Rs. 31,000 per year and Lord Auckland could proudly 
report that the Court of Directors would “approve of our having 
closed these controversies at this limited amount of increased 

On the other hand, Lord Auckland was also able to satisfy the 
demands of the Anglicist party. In the first place, he assigned a 
sum of more than a lakh of rupees for the spread of English 
education. Secondly, he reviewed the whole question of Indian 
education in his Minute and gave the following decisions which, 
it will be noticed, are entirely in support of the Anglicist view: 

(/) Only partial and imperfect results could be expected from 
1 Selections from Educational Records } Vol. I, pp. 148-49. 


the attempts to teach European science through the 
medium of Sanskrit or Arabic. 

(ii) The principal aim of educational policy should be to 
c ommuni cate, through the English language, a complete 
education in European Literature, Philosophy, and Science 
to the greatest number of students who may be found 
ready to accept it. 

(///) Attempts of Government should be restricted to the exten- 
sion^? higher education to the upper classes of society 
who have leisure for study and whose culture would filter 
down to the masses. This was the old, famous Down- 
ward Filtration Theory and its approval by Lord Auck- 
land marked its official acceptance by Government, < 
j Henceforward this theory became the official policy in 
\ education and continued to dominate Government effort 
s in education till about 1870. 

On the whole, it may be said that although Lord Auckland 
saved the Classicists from complete annihilation — ’twas all they 
wanted— he gave a far greater impetus to the spread of English 

It also appears from Auckland’s Minute that even in these 
early days when hardly five years had elapsed since Macaulay 
wrote of the poverty of modern Indian languages, a suggestion 
was already being put forward from several quarters that these 
languages should be used as the media of instruction, at least in 
the secondary schools. It was pointed out that their limited 
syllabus could easily be taught through the Indian languages 
especially if good class books were prepared and arrangements 
made to train the teachers properly. It was also argued that 
such a measure would give encouragement to literature in Indian 
languages, and it was pointed out that Bombay was actually using 
the Indian languages as media of instruction in most of its 
schools of this type. But, in spite of these weighty considera- 
tions to the contrary, it is to be regretted that Lord Auckland did 
not accept this wholesome suggestion. English was already used 
as the medium of instruction in such Zilla schools as were then in 
existence, and he did not think that there were sufficient reasons 
to warrant a change in the existing position. This decision is 



all the more to be regretted because, owing to the centralization ' 
introduced by the Charter Act of 1833, the views of a Governor- 
General could now influence greatly the other presidencies 

also. f 

There is little to narrate regarding the development ot 
education in Bengal after Lord Auckland’s Minute. The General 
Committee of Public Instruction was replaced in 1842, by a 
Council of Education. In 1844, Government announced its 
policy of giving every encouragement to educated Indianslry 
employing them in Government service. In 1845, the Council 
of Education made a proposal for the establishment of a University 
at Calcutta but the Court of Directors rejected it on the ground 
that it was premature. By 1854, the Council of Education con- 
ducted 151 educational institutions with 13,163 scholars and 
'incurred a total expenditure of Rs. 5,94,428 a year. 


The Presidency of Bombay: The rule of the Peshwa came to an 

end in 1818 and the Province of Bombay, as it stands today 
(except for" a small area'' which’ was annexed later on), was formed 
in the same year. The Peshwa used to spend about Rs. 5,00,000 
a year in giving Dakshina to the Brahmins. It was now decided 
that this expenditure should be stopped and that a part of it 
should be used for the encouragement of Brahmanic learning. 
The Poona SanskrU College .was, therefore, established inj 82 1 
on the model of the Branaras Sanskrit College. Its maintenance 
was the main educational activity of the Government tilll_823 
when a more vigorous educational policy was adopted for India 
as a whole. 

At this time, the Governor of the Presidency was hdojintstuart 
Elphinstone whose enquiry into indigenous education has been 
referred to already. \lt_ was* mainly due to his encouragement 
.that a Society called he Bombay Native Education Society” 
was established in Bombay with the object of spreading modern 
education among the Indian people^ The detailed history of this 
Society will be given in the next chapter; affd it will be sufficient 
to state here that, on the recommendation of Elphinstone, the 
Court of Directors sanctioned a grant-in-aid to the Society and 
accepted it as the principal agency for the spread of education 
among the people. This official encouragement gave a great fillip 


to the Society and enabled it to render very useful service to the 
cause of education between 1823 and 1840. The following short 
'account of the institutions conducted by the Socletjun 1840 will 
give an I3ea of the main features of its educational policy: 

District of English Schools: The Society conducted four 
English Schools' at Bombay, Thana, Panvel and Poona. All these 
schools were under the management of European headmasters. 

v(5) District Primary Schools: The Society attached much 
greater importance to the conduct of primary schools in the 
mofussil. It may be noted that in those days, the expression 
primary education meant the spread of Western Science and know- 
ledge. through the mother-tongue and hence the primary schools 
of the Society were far different from the primary schools of 
today. For instance, th e syllab us of a primary school included 
the study of ^Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, History of England 
and India, Geogr ap hy, Astronomy, Natural Philosophy, Algebra, 
Euclidean Geometry and Trigonometry. The number of classes 
varied from six to ten. These schools, therefore, may more 
appropriately be described as secondary schools teaching through 
the me dium of tlie mo ther-t ongue rather than as primary schools 
in the modern sense of the term. 

It was on the development of such schools that the Bombay w 
Native Education Society concentrated its attention between 1822 
and 1840. The progress was slow because the funds at the 
disposal of the Society were limited and the teachers for the 
schools had to be specially trained. But it persisted in its efforts 
.15 — I810_^^many _as l 15 primary schools of thjs type were 
conducted by the Society. 

With regard to the question of the medium of instruction, the 
So ciety's vie w was that the study of English was “of secondary 

the mental and moral improvement” of 
f h L In dianpeople. Although it conducted a few English Schools 
in order to “render those few scholars, who evince an inclination 
and have leisure to continue their studies in English language, 
capable of understanding all kinds of works on literature and 
science, it was of opinio n that Western knowledge could never 
be J.P r l a j? the people through the medium of the English lang- 
Ua J e a,on e. In its report for 1825-26, it stated its policy in the 





following words: 

t These ideas (i.e., the new ideas in Western literature and 
| science) will be most easily rendered comprehensible to them 
I by means of the mother-tongue of each scholar. It will, there- 
fore, no doubt be admitted that the time and labour both of the 
master and the scholar would be materially saved, were these 
indispensable explanations previously embodied in works written 
in the native languages; and thus it again .a imeaiaUthaLEnglish 
cap never become the most facile and successfu l med ium of 
communicating to the natives, as a body, t hel i t e r a tu r e,^scie nee 
and morality of Europe. 

Besides the institutions mentioned above which were managed 
by the Bombay Native Education Society, Government itself 
conducted two colleges— the Sanskrit College at Poona liHcfthe 
Elphinstone Institution at Bombay. When Elphinstone retired 
in 1827, the people of Bombay subscribed a fund of two lakhs in 
order to commemorate his services to the Province. The Court 
of Directors contributed an equal amount and the Elphinstone 
Institution was organized in Bombay in 1834. .Through it, the 
Directors hoped to raise “a class of perpons qualified by their 
intelligence and morality for high employment in the Civil 
administration of India”; and the Indian community who had 
subscribed for it hoped that it would lead to a study and enrich- 
ment of the languages of the people. The college used as feeder 
the Central English School conducted by the Bombay Native 
Education Society. 

The above account of the institutions in Bombay will show that 
Government gave simultaneous encouragement to the study of 
Sanskrit, English and Modern Indian Languages. The following 
passage from a report of Captain Candy explains the principles 
underlying this policy: 

It seems to me that too much encouragement cannot be given 
to the study of English,~nor too much value put upon it, in its 
proper place and connection, in a plan for the intellectual and 
moral improvement of India. This place I conceive to be that 
of supplying ideas and the matter of instruction, not that of being 

medium of instruction. The medium through which the 
^m ass of the population must be instructed, I humbly conceive, 
musT be their V ernacular To ngu es, and neither English nor 
/Sanskrit. Sanskrit I conceive to be the grand storehouse from 
IS^ticBT strength and beauty may be drawn for the Vernacular 
languages, and it is, therefore, highly deserving of cultivation, 
but it cannot furnish from its stores the matter of instruction, 
nor can it ever be the medium of instruction to more than a 
few. In a word, knowledge must be drawn from the stores of 
the English language, the Vernaculars must be employed as the 
media of communicating it, and Sanskrit must be largely used 
to improve the Vernaculars and make them suitable for the 
purpose. I look on every Native who possesses a good knowledge 
ofhis ow n mother-tongue, of Sanskrit, and of English, to possess 
t he powe r of rendering incalculable benefit to his countrymen. 1 

in Apni isw, the Government of Bombay decided to con- 
stitute one agency for the management of all the institutions for 
the education of Indians and established a Board of Education 
con sistin g of seven members of whom three were to be nominated 
by the Society. The Bombay Native Education Society was 
wound up and the last act of its existence was to nominate three 
Indians as members of the Board of Education. This Board 
eon tmued to function tfll 1 8SS when the first Director "of Public 
Inst ruction took over charge. 

, Tfie Board inherited, not only all the institutions conducted 
by^the Native Education Society, but also the Poona College 
and the Elphinstone Institution. In 1842, it divided the province 
mto three educational Divisions and placed a European Inspector 
2“T I “ d,an Assistant in charge of each. It prepared regula- 
iuvt S *° r J^ e mana 8 ement °f its English and primary schools. It 

than'TW—'*^^' jUtege Pf not less 

LProxtied the peqpte gave a school-house, 

rail 2 * %, an JZ a ^ ed to P*y a ®°athly fee of one anna per 
Pofe of therefore > that the Boai- d continued the 

statistics^ tat B ° mbaj ! Nativc Education Society and the following 
ics taken from its report for 1845 show the contrast between 

Report of the Board of Education, 1840-41, p. 35. 

84 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

the developments in Bengal and Bombay: 

Bengal Bombay 

1. Population 37,000,000 10,500,000 

2. Expenditure on education Rs. 4,77,593 Rs. 1,68,226 

3. Number of pupils reading in 

Government schools 5,570 10,616 

4. Number of pupils reading in 

English schools 3,953 761 

As in Bengal, a contr oversy, rega rding the medium of instruction 
arose in Bombay also between 1 845 and ljj>48. But the character 
of the two controversies was ra ( dicany different. In Bengal, the 
conflict arose between the classical languages on the one hand and 
English on the other, and it is surprising that the champions of 
neither party said anything in favour of the mother-tongue of the 
people. But in Bombay, the conflict between classical and modern 
Indian languages was settled years ago by^ the Jftgdia^al^saints 
who wrote in the language spoken and understood bjMthe masses. 
Hence Bombay opinion was not prepared to accept the view later 
championed by Macaulay that “the dialects commonly spoken 
among the natives of this part of India contain neither literary 
nor scientific information, and are moreover so poor and rude 
that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not . 
be easy to translate any valuable work into them”. On the other 
hand, the view popularly held in Bombay was that Government 
should concentrate on the spread of education through the mother- 
tongue, and no one even suggested the adoption of a classical 
language as the medium of instruction. Consequently, when the 
conflict regarding the medium of instruction arose in Bombay, 
it arose between the mother-tongue and English and not between 
a classical language and English as in Bengal. 

In 1843, Sir Erskine Perry, a Judge of the High Court, became 
the President of the Board of Education. He was a staunch sup- 
porter of the use of English as a msdium of instruction and he 
did not at all approve of the earlier policy of the Bombay Native 

Education Society (which had been continued by the Board of 

Education without a change) to give as much of higher education 
as possible through the modern Indian languages. He, therefore, 



^Ite&osed to the Board that Bombay should follow in the foot- 
nf Bengal and adopt English as the medium of instruction 
li all higher education. This proposal at once met with a stiff 
l^pQ^tion. Col. Jervis and the three Indian members of the 
"Board held that education must be imparted through the mother- 
longue of the children. They were not at all prepared to abandon 
Ihe earlier policy of the Society and refused to accept the ideas of 
Sir Erskine Perry. A controversy thus ensued, was fought bitterly 
io the Board for about two years and, as in Bengal, was finally 
submitted to Government for orders. 

It is not necessary to go into the details of the case of the 
Anglicist party led by Sir E. Perry. Its inspiration evidently came 
from Bengal and it had hardly anything to add to the arguments 
given in the Minutes of Macaulay and Auckland. But owing to 
the different situation in Bombay, it emphasized the following 
three arguments: 

(/) That Indians were themselves eager to study English; 
(k) That the work of translating books of European knowledge 
and science into the Indian languages would be extremely 
costly and difficult; and 

(iii) That it was politically expedient to encourage the Indians 
to study English. As this is a new aspect of the problem, 
one cannot do better than to quote Sir Erskine Perry’s 
own words: 

There can be no doubt whatever, and Government are per- 
fectly alive to the fact, that the more intimate the communica- 
tion is between the governors and the governed, the better for 
both parties. I t is only by close inter-communication that com- 
p laints become H^ard and redressed — that^ the views of the 
Government for general improvement can be appreciated— that 
the corruption and extortions of intermediate agency can be 
ch^eET IHs the clear perception of these views that causes 
Governm ent to lay so much, and such just stress pn their 
European employee^ ....Peters, pf the native 

languages. But the same good results are produced, and in a 
much" more effective manner, when the Natives on their part 
acquire the English language. The English are notoriously ba4 


linguists, the Scotch are worse. They commence their studies of 
Eastern languages, moreover, at a period of life when the 
organs of speech are becomng somewhat rigid. But the natives 
have a wonderful aptitude for language— every one above the 
rank of a cultivator knows at least two; and, with respect to 
English, those who undertake the study of it commence at the 
most favourable period of life for the acquisition of a foreign 
tongue. At the present moment, although the knowledge of 
native languages is indispensable to Europeans in civil employ 
ment, and although no marked encouragement for the study of 
English by natives has been afforded by Government, . for one 
civilian who can write a grammatical letter in idiomatic Maha- 
rattior Gujrathi, I will undertake to produce fifty natives, 
who can write off-hand a letter in pure English. Without in the 
least degree desiring to diminish the onus on the European 
services of acquiring the native languages, I do submit that all 
sound policy dictates a like encouragement to natives, for the 
purpose of drawing the relation closer between them and the 
Government. 1 

The other side was very ably put forward by Colonel Jervis and 
Jagannath Shankarset. The following extract from a Minute 
dated 24th February 1847, from Colonel Jervis will show the 
noble stand that he took on this issue: 

Surely it must be admitted, that general instruction cannot be 
afforded, 'except through the medium of a language with 
which the mind is familiar; and, therefore, the consistent result 
of the views above-mentioned, which would consititute English 
the essential medium for the intellectual improvement of the 

Natives of India, startling though it must appear to the com- 
monest sense, is to withhold all education from the Native 
population of this country, until the English language is so 
familiar to them, that each individual can think and reason in 
that tongue, to the supersession necessarily of his own dialect; 
and moreover, strange to say, the idea of making English the 
sole language of our Indian subjects, has been seriously enter- 

i sir Erskine Perry's Note on Education, para. 25, printed as Appendix to 
the Report of the Bombay ,Board of Education, 1849, 


tained and propounded. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the 
chimerical nature, to say the least, of such extreme views; but 
the conclusion appears incontrovertible, that, in proportion as 
we confine Education to the channel of the English language, so 
will the fruits be restricted to a number of scribes and inferior 
Agents for Public and Private Offices, and a few enlightened 
individuals — isolated by their very superiority, from their fellow 

In our endeavours to make the knowledge of English among 
the natives so prominent and essential a qualification, we are 
neglecting the benefit of three hundred years’ experience in 
Europe, and we are retrograding to the days, in which Latin 
was the sole language of Literature; and when, in consequence, 
knowledge, both spiritual and temporal, was confined to a few 
Monks— a few Divines — a few Men of Letters. Until such an 
exclusive agency was put an end to, — until the modern tongues 
of Europe were emancipated, — the people could never learn, 
or know for themselves. On the abrogation of the exclusive 
use of the Latin language on the Inauguration of the language 
of the People, the acquirement of knowledge was made accessible 
to all. From the Noble, to the Artizan,— all men could be 
taught,— all men could be teachers,— and how wonderful has 
been the advancement, in morality and literature, by such a 
change in Europe. Should we then, here, at this day, so far for- 
get this lesson, and insist so much on imposing the burden of 
the foreign language of a handful of Rulers on the Millions of 
oSTNS^ On the contrary, I cojaceive it a para- 

mount du^ part, to foster the Vernacular dialects, and 

toTuse "every endeavour to free them from the swaddling bands 
i n^vvlircK^^^T^ have been hitherto confined. Aided by their 

cogi^ dialects (Sanskrit, etc.) they would be capable 

o f a copiou sness of expression, now unknown to them; and of 
indicating the dependence,— the connection, the minute diver- 
sity and transition of ideas, and the various steps in the process 
oflogiS^r deductions f and they would attain to a vigorous 
inaturity, — in which the highest powers of language to embody 
every operation of the mind, from the simplest to the most 
subtle would be developed. 

The popular idioms, which have hitherto been employed only 


8 $ 


in a few meagre productions of the Chronicler and Minstrel, 
must be summoned under our auspices, to act a new part, and, 
consequently to receive a new development. In this way we 
should endeavour to raise up a new world of Morality and 
Literature around the whole mass of Native Society, and not 
contract their advancement solely within the bounds, which the 
tutelage of our English Government, and the medium of our 
English language, would impose. The learned Orientalist 
Horace Wdson, observes: — 4 It is not by t he English language 
that we can enli^ the people oflndlaVlt jean be elTected 
only through the forms of speech which ^ t^ aT^a^nunder- 
stand and use. These must be applied to the purpose^ either by 
direct translations, or which is preferable, by the representation 
of European facts, opinions, and sentiments, in an original 
native garb. In the early stages of improvement, the former 
mode is the only one that can be expected; hereafter, the latter 
would take its place, and would give to the people of India 
a literature of their own, the legitimate progeny of that of 
England, the living resemblance, though not the servile copy 
of its Parent. 9 

T^HSiect of importing ^ish literature along with English 
Cottons into Indi a, and bringing it into universal use must at 
once be felt by every reasonable mind as chimerical and 
ridjculou^ If the people are to have a literature£"lt ffiust 
be their own. T he r stuff may be, in a great degree, 
European, but it interwoven wjth homespun 

materials, and the fashion must be Asiatic. 1 

The following Minute dated 1st May 1847, was penned by 
Jagannath Shankarset and concurred in by the two other Indian 
members of the iBoard of Education, Framjee Cowasjee and 
Mahommad Ibrahim Jdackba. It gives "an insight into the 
real object of those who contributed to the Elphinstone 
Fund and forms an excellent retort to the argument that Indians 
themselves were eager to study English to the neglect of their 

I am persuaded that the Vernacular languages possess 
flections from Educational Records , Vol. IT, pp. 11-13, 


advantages superior to English, as the medium of communica- 
ting useful knowledge to the people of Western India. It cannot 
be denie d tha t they must h a ve less difficulty in understanding 
wEatever is communicated to them in their own language, than 
in a foregin tongue. When a native is inclined to prosecute the 
study of English, his progress is more rapid, and his useful- 
ness doubled, provided he be first well grounded in his own 
language. I say his usefulness will be increased, because it 
is only by this preparation that any knowledge he may have 
acquired can be imparted by him to his countrymen through 
the medium of the Vernacular languages. It is, in my humble 
opinio n; an impossibility to teach the great mass of the people 

a ^langu age, such as English, so widely different from their 

own. I must also observe that when the native chiefs and others 
gave large subscriptions for the establishment of the Elphinstone 
Professorships they contributed them with an understanding 
that the Vernacular,, languages were jot to neglected, but 
carefully fostered, and improved, and brought into use as the 
medium of communicating useful knowledge to the great body 
°Ll^JP?PpK- The ^ Vernacu lar Janguages have _ been r jpuch 
n eglected by t he pg &ple i n Bombay, and this being the centre 
fr o m which ^we^expect the beams of knowledge tQ spread, these 
languages are pre-eminently entitled to our fostering care. 
It "v/as to this end that the early efforts of Native Education 
were directed. It was to this end that all Mr. Elphinstone’s plans 
tended. For a time, these efforts were eminently successful, but 
they have remained in abeyance, and the state in which they 
now are, though somewhat improved, requires the most stre- 
nuous effort for improvement to render them efficient organs 
for imparting European kn^ the natives. Our worthy 

President Has observed, that the Board are eqully alive with 
Colonel Jervis to the necessity of the Vernacular languages 
beings the medium of in to the masses of the people, to 

the importance of promoting the growth of Vernacular literature 
and to the urgency of providing schools. This is true, nor have 
I any hesitation in stating that the desire of acquiring a know- 
le dge of the English language and literature, evinced by the 
natives is very great and very prevalent; and^Jhis is evident 
f rom t he efforts which parents make to get their sons as quickly 





re mo v ed from the Vernacular into the English schools as they 
can. Their motives for this* acquirement are obvious, public 
empolyment, and a facility of intercourse with Europeans, but 
it seems to be hopeless that we can ever change the languge of 
a whole country. In reality how insignificant a portion of the 
whole population are acquainted with the English, or have any 
prospect or means of becoming so. If our object is to diffuse 
knowledge and improve the minds of the natives' of India as a 
people, ins my opinion that it mus t "Be dbne bylmpartinglhat 
knowl^ in their own langua^ 

channel can we ever hope to extend the advantages of Education 
generally to our females? I repeat, I am far from wishing to 
discourage the study of English, but I believe it to be beyond 
the reach of the masses of people. I cannot at the lameHfime 
help remarking that the encouragement which we provide to 
Vernacular Education is far less than what the real interest of 
Native education demands; the Master’s pay is so small and 
we have never as yet conferred any Scholarship on Vernacular 
Students. These sentiments are not new; they were entered 
in a protest given in by Colonel Jervis, Mohammed 
Ibrahim Mackba, and myself on the Board’s report for 
1845. 1 

The controversy grew bitter by 1848 and hence the whole ques- 
tion was submitted to Government for orders. These were passed 
on 5th April 1848, but were extremely indecisive. As Sir Erskine 
Perry wrote: 

But whilst the Government thus enjoin the maintenance of 
the present system, which is in accordance with the views of 
myself, Mr. Escombe, and Dr. McLennan, they emit opinions 
so much more in accordance with the views of Colonel Jervis, 
that it is obvious that the different conflicting theories at the 
Board, which have already produced much inconvenience, will 
again be brought forward from time to time, and that each 
party will refer to this Government letter as an authority 
for their favourite views. 2 

Selections from Educational Records , Vol. II, pp. 16-17. 

*Ibid p. 22. 

It was this indecisiveness of the orders coupled with the repeated 
pressure from Bengal that throttled the growth of education in 
Bombay through the mother-tongue. In those days of centraliza- 
tion, the sanction of the Government of Bengal was necessary 
for all new items of expenditure. Consequently, when the Govern- 
ment of Bombay put up proposals for the expansion of primary 
education, they were generally not sanctioned by the Government 
of Bengal on the ground of the heaviness of their cost and some- 
times the Government of Bengal even advised the Government of 
Bombay to concentrate on English education because it was less 
costly to Government. The one definite result of the controversy 
was, therefore, the adoption of English as the exclusive medium 
of instruction at the collegiate stage. The attempts of Colonel 
Jervis and others succeeded in retaining the use of the mother- 
tongue as a medium of instruction at the secondary stage only — 
a position which, as we shall see, was accepted even by the Des- 
patch of 1854. 

The activites of the Board between 1848 and 1853 can be briefly 
narrated. In 1851, the Poona Sanskrit College was combined with 
the Poona English School and was designated the Poona College. 
It came to be known later as the Deccan College. The Board 
continued its policy of establishing an English school in each 
District and of establishing primary schools in as many bigger 
villages as possible. The Board also conducted a Normal class 
for primary teachers in the Elphinstonc Institution. 

The Presidency of Madras was the last of the Presidencies to come 
into the field. Reference has already been made to the 
enquiry made by Munro in 1822 regarding indigenous educa- 
tion. As a result of this enquiry, Munro found that the 
condition of education in that, Jftp rf yin<*^ was at a low ebb on 
a ccoun t of the absence of encouragement from Government and 
thej)overty^ of tib,e people. !“ln his Minute, dated 10th March 
18|§, Munro proposed that an attempt should be made to educate 
the masses by improving the injdigi^^ For this purpose 

he said, the first essential requirement was to have a better type 
of teachers. In order to create these, hejgroiiqsed the establish- 
ment^ j^tTO schools (one for Hindus and one for Muslims) in 
eich Collectorate and of one school in each Tahsil (Taluka) of the 


Pr&YUjpe. The total cost of his proposals was estimated at 
Rs. 50,000 per annum. 

Munro’s proposals were sanctioned by the Court of Directors 
in 1828. But unfortunately Munro himself had departed this 
world in 1827, and those who followed him had neither the sym- 
pathy nor the vision of Munro so that the experiment was tried 
in a very half-hearted manner. By 1830, only about 70 Tahsil- 
daree schools had been established and even before the scheme 
had begun to work, the Directors wrote on 29th September 1830, 
that the Government of Madras would do well to concentrate on 
the spread of English education rather than on an attempt to 
spread education among the masses. Although this letter did 
not immediately kill the schools established by Munro — these 
continued to have an indifferent existence till 1836 — it effectually 
stopped their expansion and the problem of mass education 
in Madras received a great set-back and continued to be neglected 
till 1868. 

After the death of Munro, the history of official attempts in 
education in Madras makes painful reading. It mostly con- 
sists, as Richey points out, 

of minutes by successive Governors, Lord Elpinstone, Lord 
Tweeddale and Sir Henry Pottinger, outlining policies which 
were never fully adopted, of reports from the educational board 
submitting schemes which never brought into effect, of orders 
of the local Government constituting new educational authorites 
each of which was short lived, together with despatches from 
the Court ofDirectors criticising the policies framed by the Gover- 
nors, rejecting the schemes submitted by the educational board 
and dissolving the new educational authorites consituted by the 
local Government. We find, for example, that the Board of Public 
Instruction was reconstituted in 1836, as a Committee of Native 
Education, which in turn gave place in 1841 to a University 
Board; this Board was superseded by a Council of Education 
in 1845, which was dissolved at the instance of the Court of 
Directors in 1847, its duties being again undertaken by the 
University Board; Sir Henry Pottinger revived the Council of 
Education in 1848 only to replace it by a Board of Governors 
in 1851, which handed over its functions to the Department of 


Public Instruction which was formed in 1854. In view of the 
constant changes both in the policy of the local Government 
and in the personnel of the authority whose duty it was to 
carry out that policy, it is not a matter for surprise that the 
educational activities of the Madras Government were not fruitful 
in results or that we find in 1852 but one single institution 
in the Presidency founded or under the immediate control of , 
Government. 1 

It is, therefore, unnecessary here to go into the details of the 
voluminous correspondence that is available on the subject. 
The following brief statement of events will be quite sufficient for 
our purpose: 

Hfi) The indigenous schools were never encouraged in Madras. 
The District and Tahsildaree schools established by Munro 
were discontinued in 1836 as a result of the orders of the Govern- 
ment of Bengal which recommended the withdrawal of aid from 
the Collectorate and Tahsildaree schools, the establishment of an 
English College at Madras, and of provincial English schools at 
some important places in the interior, if funds permitted. 

^fc) A High School then called “the University” was establish- 
ed in Madras in 1841. 

v^(rf) In 1853, a collegiate Department was organised in the 
Madras “University”. 

(c) Although the sanctioned allotment for education in Madras 
was only Rs. 50,000 a year, expenditure to the full amount was 
never incurred and a balance of over Rs. 300,000 had accumu- 
lated by 1853. 

The only relievin^gctor of the situation was that Missionary 
activities "wifTconducted on a very large scale in Madras and 
consequenfTy English education was more extensively imparted 
thereTBanT even m Bombay where Government conducted an 
English Scfioor m almost every district in the Province. The 
In3ian Education Commission, 1882, states that, in 1854, “about 
30,000 boys were being educated in schools conducted by 
Missionary Societies, and about 3,000 were obtaining at least the 
x Selections from Education^ l Records, Vol. II, p. 177, 



elements of a liberal education in English”. 1 

Official Efforts in Education in the North-Western Provinces: The 
Control of the educational institutions in the North-Western 
Provinces of Agra and Oudh was transferred from the Govern- 
ment of Bengal to the Provincial Government in 1843. At that 
time, the Province had three colleges at Agra, Banaras and Delhi, 
and nine Anglo-Vernacular Schools maintained by Government. 

One of the earliest decisions of the Provincial Government was 
t° edu.catejhe people through of their mother-tongue 

and not through English. This decision was mmnly due to 
Thomason who was then the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province 
and was a great champion of mass education and indigenous 
schools. We owe three great ideas to him, -thTnecessity 

of incorporating the indigenous schools in a national system 
of education; (H^ the creation of an Education Department; and 
(iif) the levy of a local rate for educational purposes. The history 
of educational developments in the North-Western Province bet- 
ween 1843 and 1853 is, therefore, of great interest to students of 
mass education in India. This is, however, given in detail in 
section 12 later on. 

Official Efforts in Education in the Punjab: The Province of the 
Punjab was constituted in 1 849. The only official institution that 
existed in the Province prior to 1854 was a school at Amritsar 
which had Hindu, Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit, and Gurumukhee 

Official Edncational Policies in India (1833-53): The foregoing 
review of the principal landmarks in official educational enter- 
prise in India between 1833 and 1853 prepares the ground for a 
discussion of the official policies in education [as they evolved 
in this period. These can be conveniently discussed under the 
following heads: 

(a) The Objectives of Educational Policy; 

^ ( b ) The Downward Filtration Theory; ' 

(c) Attitude towards Indigenous Institutions; and 

1 Report, p. lj. 


{d) The Education of Women. 

The problem of the medium of instruction has been discussed 
already in sections 4 and 5. 


The Objectives of Educational policy: One of the first problems 
to be discussed in building up the modern system of education 
was to define the objectives of educational policy. The subject 
can be approached from two points nLview: cultur al and political- 
c um- adm inistrative. 

From the cultur al point of view, the educational thought of this 
period can be broadly divided into three d efinite v iewpoints: the 
first is the view represented by men like Duncan and Hastings, 
or more preferably, by Minto, Prinsep, H. H. Wilson, and such 
other Orientalists. This view emphasized ( ctf the worthwhileness 
of the ancient literatures of the Hindus and Muslims, (Z^y^the 
necessity an^ importance of its proper study by Hindus and 
Muslims, (c) the utility of the careful^study of these literatures 
by Western scholars as well, and ( d ) the desirabi 1 i ty of preserving 
t he anc ient culture of Hindus and Muslims from the state of rapid 
d ecay i nto which it had fallen on account of the loss of royal 
p atrona ge. It is not our intention to suggest that these persons 
opposed the spread of Western knowledge; but they obviously 
a ttached far greater importance to the preservation and develop- 
ment of ^entalculture. 

The second view which represents the other extreme was general- 
ly heldTJy mssionaries jnd by jmn like Ck Grant and 
Magftujay . whp,.,be.U < the substitution ~ of Oriental culture by 
Western . They generally had an utter contempt for Oriental 
culture. Grant’s Observations prove this and Macaulay roundly 
declared that “a single shelf of a good European library was 
worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia”. Grant 
believed that We st ern ligh t and k n ow led ge shou l d take the place 
of Eastern cultu re and religi on. an<L^caulay .talked of creating 
a class of persons who would be “Indians in blood and colour, 
t jut InglfeE in tastes, in qpifljjflpg, in morals, and in intellect”. 

The third view s<ra£ht_the. gpjtfep Mean between these two 
e xtreme s. It premised that Indians would lose greatly by being 
restricted merely to the study of Oriental literature; that the substi- 




tution of one culture by another would be a psychological impos- 
sibility; and that the^ljrj^c^ apj)rojch^the 

to bring about a. synthesis of the two cultures, 
preserying all that is good in the Oriental system and superim- 
P8SH8 SP?a it all that is good in the 

finds good exponents among^enlightened^ " Indians like Raja Ram 
MS^aJReX-.-.aad liberal-minded IZcScmei Jervis 

\ w fe§ If the people are to have a literature, it must be their 
j own * The stuff may be, in a great degree, European, but it must 
I be freely interwoven with homespun materials and the fashion 
i must be Asiatic.” 1 These very remarks can be extended to the 
general pattern of culture that men like him tried to create. 

It was rather unfortunate that, during the period under review, 

realised by our^uoational 
administrators. Prior to 1833, the Orientalist view held sway and 
then the pendulum swung to the other side and the ideas of 
the substitution of Eastern culture by Western became more 
* dominant. These extremes were probably unavoidable because 
it was through these trial and error methods only that the ultimate 
truth was realised at a later date. They were, however, unfortu- 
nate and had a considerable unsettling cultural effect upon the 
young men who entered the modern educational institutions of 
this period. 

Coming to the pdit[cal-cum-administrative aspects of the 
problem, w ? j^nd spread of education among the Indian 
people was advocated, in this period, op two otherjgpjunds as 
well: to win over the confidence of the upper classes of^society 
who had to secure jess costly employees for the suSordinate 
ranks of Government service. The first of these objectives will 
be discussed in detail in the next section under the Downward 
Fill ^ e °ry* The second objective became more and more 
pronounced as the Company's territories began to grow. So long 
as it was a purely commercial concern, the Company employed 
Englishmen almost exclusively. As soon as it became a political 
power, it had to employ large numbers of Indian servants partly 
because the exclusion of Indians from all posts under Government 
would have led to great discontent and partly because the exclusive 
employment of Englishmen was neither practicable nor financially 

1 Selections from Educational Records, Vol. II p. 13 , 


feasible. This naturally created a demand for educated Indians, 
and the Court of Directors were very eager to develop education 
in India in such a manner that the subordinate services 
under Government could be speedily Indianised, thereby reducing 
the cost of administration very materially. Of course, this idea 
of Indianisation was never pushed too far. There was never 
any talk of giving any key-post to an Indian (except probably in 
the theoretical Parliamentary discussion on the Charter Act of 
1833) and all key services were to continue to be exclusively a 
British preserve. But even with this limitation, there was a very 
large scope for the employment of Indians under Government 
and an argument that was often put forward was that the new 
system of education should train Indians for these jobs that 
awaited them. , 

A th ird view, semi-political and ethical in character, was 
occasionally put forward on this subject, viz., that it was the 
duty oftheCompany, as a j yjer, to provide education for the 
p eople of India. This view was partly supported by the tradi- 
tion of Hindu and Muslim rulers, partly by the influence from 
England where, since 1833, Parliament had accepted the respon- 
sibility for education, and partly from the concept of several 
liberal-minded Englishmen that the only moral justification for 
the British conquest of India would be to make it a means of the 
cultural improvement of the people as a whole. This view is 
found expressed in the writings of men like Grant, Munro, 
Macaulay and Metcalfe. 

A study of the documents of this period, therefore, shows that . 
th e most com monly discussed objects qf British educational policy 
in India were m three: (a) to spread western knowledge, (bf * to 
secure properly trained servants for the public administration of 
the country, and (cYto do the Sovereign’s duty by the Indian 
subjects. All these viewpoints existed at all times and were 
emphasised in varying degrees by different classes of officials and 
educational workers; and even the view of the same group of 
officials or workers changed in accordance with the changes in the 
social and political life of England herself. For instance, we find 
that the first view was generally held by missionaries and such 
officials of the Company as were inspired by a missionary zeal; 
the second is most frequently found in the Despatches of the 


Court of Directors who, as financiers and traders, emphasised 
the importance of recruiting cheap and efficient servants for the 
public administration of the country; and the third is found in 
the writings of men like Macaulay, Munro and Metcalfe. If we 
go by periods, we find that the second view dominated the dis- 
cussions in the period of 1823-33 and the first dominated those in 
the period 1833-53. The explanation of the phenomena obviously 
lies in the fact that in the earlier period, the finances of the 
Company were in a bad condition and strenuous attempts had to 
be made to reduce the cost of administration, while in the second 
period, a wave of liberal ideas dominated English life. 

The foregoing discussion makes it clear that it would be 
historically incorrect to talk, as is sometimes done, of any of the 
above objectives as the sols aim of British educational policy in 
India. Thejjritish admi nistra tion hacj not one, but a group of 
aims , and the only statement that can be justified isjto^ say_that 
at times a particular objective was emphasised more than the 
others. If this fundamental concept is accepted, it may be further 
argue d Jhat the system of liberal education in India was organised 
with an empha sis on the s pread of West ern knowledge jwhile the . 
system o f professional and vocational education^ 2 L%or germed with 
tte jprincipal object of training Indians for Government service. 
In support of the former of these statements, the two irrefutable 
arguments are the establishment of the Universities and theefforts 
made to educate women. Neither of these measures was essential 
for securing Government servants and their incorporation in 
official policy shows convincingly that the emphasis was placed 
on the spread of Western knowledge. The second statement will 
be fully justified by the history of professional and vocational 
education that will be narrated in later sections. 

A very common remark heard in educational and political 
discussions is that the modern system of education in India was 
solely motivated by the object of securing servants for Govern- 
ment. This is hardly a correct interpretation of historical events. 

A careful study of the Minutes of Munro and Elphinstone, the 
speeches of Macaulay on the Charter Act of 1833 and Lord 
Hardinge’s Resolution of 1844, will show that these pioneers, at 
any rate, d id not t hink that the^pe&pht educated 
because Government required servants. On the other hand, they 



believed that employment under Government was to be used as a 
means of overcoming the suspicion which a conservative people 
would naturally feel towards the new-fangled institutions of an 
alien Government, as a bait to divert the young men of the upper 
classes from the study of Oriental to Occidental literature, and as 
a just fulfilment of the ambition that would be naturally aroused 
in the hearts that had drunk at the fountain of Western culture. 
It would be an unfair estimate of the work of these pioneers of 
the Indian educational system to say that securing servants for 
public administration was either the sole or even the main aim of 
their endeayours. 

The downward Filtration Theory: The second problem which the 
creators of the modern system of education had to face was to 
decide, at the very outset, wheth er t hey would educate a class or 
t he masses as a who le. 

A view that came to be put forward very early on this subject 
was that Government should educate only those classes of society 
that had lost most by the change of Government. It was claimed 
that such education, followed by employment in subordinate 
services of Government, would win the loyalty of these classes 
and help the consolidation of British Rule in India. It was this/ 
motive that led to the education of the Muslims in Bengal, theA 
Hindus in North-Western Province, and the Brahmins in Bombay. \ 
This standpoint, however, was soon abandoned because the ! 
political situation that gave rise to it disappeared generally within | 
a few years of the British conquest of the area concerned. 

This vjew jyas, therefore, re placed Jby^another which is populary 
knownas th o Downward Filtration Theory . This policy is found 
stated in three different forms which differ significantly from each 
other. According to the first form, the Company desired, on the 
analogy of the aristocratic classes in England, to educate only the 
up^er classes^ of socie ty „wi th a view to creating a governing class 
iq^India, consisting of Sardars, Nawabs, Rajas and such other 
aristocratic classes. This is hardly a correct interpretation of the 
early official attempts to spread education. It is true that some of 
the early administrators wanted to pacify those classes of society 
which had been adversely affected by the change of Government, 
by educating them in the first instance and then employing them 




in certain offices under the Company. Even assuming that such an 
attempt would have succeeded, i t, would not be correct to des- 
cribe it a s an attempt to create a governing class: ; it would be 
more correct fo describe it as an attempt to secure lcTyaltyJ)y the 
grant of petty favours. But admittedly, the attempt did not 
suQceed and instead of educating the aristocrats, the Company 
had to educate all those classes of society which werejuick to 
perceive the worldly advantages that could be obtained through 
the new educational system. For instance, when Warren Hastings 
| started the Calcutta Madrassah, he intended to educate the sons 
\ of Mahomedan gentlemen ; but it was the Bhadralok of Bengal 
| who availed themselves most of the educational opportunities that 
i were offered under the new regime. 

The second form of the Downward Filtration Theory is that 
in which the upper or influential classes of society were 
proposed to be educated first because, it was argued, their culture 
would later on naturally descend to the lower classes. For instance, 
the Court of Directors wrote as under to the Government of 
Madras on 29 September 1830: 

The improvements in education, however, which most 
effectually contribute to elevate the moral and intellectual con- 
dition of a people are those which concern the education of the 
higher classes of the persons possessing leisure and natural 
influence over the minds of their countrymen. By raising the 
standard of instruction among these classes you would eventual- 
ly produce a much greater and more beneficial change in the 
ideas and feelings of the community than you can hope to 
produce by acting directly on the more numerous class. 1 

This view may have some validity in a society which permits 
plenty of mobility for its different strata. The Indian society, 
; however, was divided into watertight sections owing to the 
prevalence of a number of religions and castes with the 
result that the assumption of a Downward Filtration Theory 
of this type had hardly any validity. Its adoption by the 
officials of this period, therefore, did give a set-back to educational 

1 Selections from Education! Records, Vol. I, p. 179. 


There is a third form of the Downward Filtration Theory which 
is of far greaterTmportance to the students of the history&^f educa- 
tion in India. According to this form, the Company was expected 
to give a good education (which then necessarily meant edu- 
cation through English) to only a few persons (these may or may 
not be from the upper classes) and leave it to these persons to - 
educate the masses (through the mo/dern Indian languages), it 
was on this view, rather than on thi idea of creating a governing 
class in India or of exclusively educating the upper classes that 
most of the early official attempts in education were based. To \ 
put it briefly, the Company did not accept, until 1854, any direct 
responsibility for the education of the masses which would 
necessarily have meant, education through the Indian languages; ^ 
on the contrary, it decided to educate a class of persons in 
English as a means of ultimately educating the masses through the 
Indian languages . 

The earliest exposition of this view is found in the writings 
of Warden, a member of the Governor’s Council in 
Bombay. The same view was later expressed by Macaulay when 
he wrote: 

In one point I fully agree with the gentlemen to whose views 
I am opposed. I feel with them that it is impossible for us, with 
our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the 
people. We must jitjjresent do our best to form a class who 
may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we 
govem^^Iass lof persons Indian in blood and colour, but £ 
English iiTuste^ in opinions, in morals and in intellect. To that£ 
cfasslve may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the' 
country, "to ‘enrich' ^ those dialects with terms of science borrowed 
from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees 
fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the 
population. 1 

It is in this sense of giving good education in English to a few j 
as a means of ultimately educating the masses through the Indian i 
languages that the Downward Filtration Theory was really evolved ! 
in this period. 

1 Ibid., p. 116. 



It must be noted that the adoption of the Downward Filtration 
Theory in this form was made inevitable by the small amounts 
sanctioned for educational expenditure, and the educational 
administrators of the early nineteenth century could hardly be 
blamed for adopting the good education of a few as the goal of 
their activities. They were called upon to face the colossal task 
of educating millions of individuals in a multitude of languages 
with which they were but little familar; they had few suitable men 
and the poorest of means; and the adoption of such an ideal was, 
therefore, the only solution of their difficulties. The one miscalcula- 
tion of which they were guilty, however, was to assume that every 
educated Indian, like the great Archimedes of old, would immedia- 
tely rush out of the English colleges and schools shouting “Eureka” 
at the top of his voice. This did not happen, at any rate, for about 
fifty.years after Macaulay’s Minute was written, and once again, 
as so often before, the best laid schemes of Indian educators went 
agley. - The fajlure was, due to two c auses: Firs tly, almost every 
person educated in English schools got employment under Govern- 
ment; and hence there was hardly any occasion for him to go and 
teach his own .countrymen. Secondly, every perso.n who was 
taught in English schools was cut off from his own people in 
sympathy and ideology. The English-knowing person became a 
class by himself and refused to acknowledge kinship with, or feel 
sympathy for, the masses who did not know English. This 
unhappy result was due partly to the attempt to substitute Western 
culture for Eastern and partly to the use of English as a medium 
of instruction. The Downward Filtration Theory, therefore, did 
not work out satisfactorily according to the ideas of its promoters 
for a very long time. 

Ultimately, however, the Theory did work out in the desired 
way. The educational institutions conducted by Government (or 
by the missionaries) remained a minority and they gave higher 
education in English to a very small percentage of the total popula- 
tion. Bu t it is f rom the ranks of these educated persons t hat the > 
bulk of workers for the education of the nation spran g up in l ater 
years In the vanguard of this band were the many noble spirits ' 
who decided to turn their back on Government serviced although 
this was available for the mere asking, and devoted th eir live s to 
spreading education among their brethren. It is to these patriotic 


and sacrificing workers that w e owe the grigin and._ development 
of priyatfi Indian en terprise in education and, eventually, most of 
the co llegiate and secondary educati on JhaLwc see in our midst 
today. Monger, a stage was soon reached when t he output o f the 
e ducational institutions beg an to exceed the capacity of Govern- 
ment services to t ake in n ew recrui ts and consequently, several 
e ducated men took up the workofspreadrng education among the 
people jas a means of their livelihood. The ranks of the early 
pioneers, therefore, were further s welled and private Indian enter- 
prise soon became the principal agency for spreading secondary 
and collegiate education among the people. Thirdly, it was by 
the labour of these few persons educated in English that the 
modern literatures in Indian languages were built up, and the 
modern In dian press was brought into existence. Ultimately, 
therefore, the task of mass education through the press and literature 
in Indi an languages has been principally carried out, as originally 
antici pa ted, by the few persons who were given a sound education 
jn. Western science and literature. But these results were slow in 
coming and did not become very conspicuous till the early years 
of the twentieth century. 

Attitude of the Company to Indigenous Educational Institutions: 
In so far as immediate results were concerned, however, the 
D ownwa rd Filtration Theory did not achieve any good; oa the 
other hand, it did a lot of harm by sabotaging the cause of mass 
e ducat ion and by leading to the neglect of indigenous institutions. 
This becomes quite evident on a study of what happened to the 
attempts of Munro, Elphinstone and Adam. The failure of 
Munro’s attempts to improve the indigenous schools by founding 
Tahsildaree and Collectorate schools has already been narrated in 
section 6. We shall now deal here with the other two attempts. 
Y{a) Proposals of Mass Education made by Elphinstone ;v 
Mountstuairt Elphinstone who was the Governor of Bombay from 
1819 to 1827 was the first Provincial Governor to propose that 
the Company should try to spread education among die masses 
byThcburaging indigenous institutions. When the Bombay Native 
Education Society approached him for a grant-in-aid, he utilised 
the opportunity to explain his views on education at length in a 
Minute and suggested the following seven measures for adoption: 


1st, to improve the mode of teaching at the native schools, 
and to increase the number of schools; 2nd, to supply them 
with school-books; 3rd, to hold out some encouragement to 
the lower orders of natives to avail themselves of the means of 
instruction thus afforded them; 4th, to establish schools for 
teaching the European sciences and improvements in the higher 
branches of education; Stb, to provide for the preparation and 
publication of books of moral and physical science in native 
languages; 6th, to establish schools for the purpose of teaching 
English to those disposed to pursue it as a classical language, 
and as a means of acquiring a knowledge of the European 
discoveries; 7th, to hold forth encouragement to the natives in 
the pursuit of those last branches of knowledge. 1 

Elphinstone knew that the above proposals would involve 
Government in considerable expenditure. But he held the view 
that the education of the poor must largely be a change on public 
revenues and argued that the greatness of the expense of his 
proposals was compensated for by the magnitude of their object. 
"‘It is difficult to imagine,” he said, 

f an undertaking in which our duty, our interest, and our 
! honour are more immediately concerned. It is well understood 
I that in all countries the happiness of the poor depends in a 
i great measure on their education. It is by means _ oflt — alone 
I that they can acquire those habits of prudence and self-respect 
\ from which all other good qualities spring; and if ever there 
■ was a country where such habits are required, it is this. 2 

Certain features of Elphinstone’s proposals deserve special j 
notice. It will be seen that he_stood for mass education througblK 
the medium of the mother-tongue. He gave the first place in his! 
programme to the improvement of indigenous schools and to 
their extension. Secondly, he suggested the teaching of English 
classically and did not insist on its use as the sole medium of 
instruction. He was not opposed to the idea of using English as 
a medium of instruction but felt that the people would not 

- 1 Elphinstone* s Minute on Education , para. 7. 

2 Ibid . , para. 43. 


respond properly if English were used for the purpose. He wrote: 

If English could be at all diffused among persons who had 
$ e least time for reflection, the progress of knowledge, by means 
of it, would be accelerated in a tenfold ratio, since every man 
who made himself acquainted with a science through English 
would be able to communicate it in his own language to his 
countrymen. At present, however, there is but little desire to 
learn English with any such view. The first step towards 
creating such a desire would be to establish a school at Bombay 
where English might be taught classically, and where instruction 
might also be given in that language on history, geography, 
and the popular branches of science. 1 

When this Minute was placed befoie the Governor’s Council 
Wardfio, who was a member of the Council at that time, violently 
o pposed the proposa ls of Elphinstone. He did not agree with the 
idea that Government should accept any responsibility for educa- 
tion of the masses. He^ was one of the earliest officials to 
en unciate^^ Do w nw ard„ filtration Theory^ He also attached 
paramount importance to English education and did not like the 
way in which Elphinstone made it follow upon primary ^duration 
at a respectable distance. He wrote: 

It is better and safer to commence by giving a good deal of 
knowledge to a few than a little to many, to be satisfied with 
laying the foundation of good edifice and not desire to accom- 
plish in a day what must be the work of a century. But the 
objectifying a good deal of knowledge to a few can only be 
P amel a!, b y a better system of education; and the surest mode 
of diffusing a better system is by making the study of the English 
language the primary, and not meiely the secondary object of 
attention in the education of the natives. 2 

Owing to this difference of opinion between Elphinstone and 
Warden, the Court of Directors did not accord sanction to all the 
1 Ibid. ) para. 27. 

2 Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons , 1832. Appendix I 
(Public), p. 384. ^ 

106 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

proposals of Elphinstone. They accepted the Bombay Native 
Education Society as their agent for organisation of education in 
the Province and hence no Committee of Public Instruction was 
appointed in Bombay. They also sanctioned a grant of Rs. 600 
per mensem to the Society and undertook to bear the cost of com- 
piling and printing its school-books. The proposals o f Elphin stone 
were thus side-tracked, and when he lefTBombay^ in 1827, he was 
deeply grieved that differences in his Council should have prevented 
him from achieving substantial results in expanding education. 
The Downward Filtration Theory, with its inseparable concomitant 
of education through English, was thus mainly responsible for 
stifling this earliest' attempt to develop mass education through 
the indigenous institutions. 

*/* (b) Adam's Proposals for the Development of Indigenous Educa- 
tion in Bengal : Reference has already been made, in Chapter I # 
to the proposals made by Adam regarding the manner in which 
the indigenous institutions could be developed. He knew that 
the Downward Filtration Theory would prevent the accept- 
ance of his plans. He, therefore, tried to show its harmfulness 
and recommended that it should be abandoned. He wrote: 

Instead of beginning with schools for the lower grades of 
native society, a system of Government institutions may be 
advocated that shall provide, in thefirst place, for the^higher 
classeson the pxLnciple that the tendency of knowledges to 
descend, n ot to ascend; and that, with this view, wel&ouia at 
| present seek to establish a school at the head-station ^of every 
' zilla, afterwards pergunnah schools, and s last of all village 
schools, gradually acquiring in the process more numerous and 
better qualified instruments for the diffusion of education. The 
primary objection to this plan is that it overlooks entire systems 
of native educational institutions, Hindu and Mohammadan, 
which existed long before our rule, and which continue to exist 
under our rule, independent of us and of our projects, forming 
and moulding the native character in successive generations. 
In the face of this palpable fact, the plan assumes that the 
country is to be indebted to us for schools, teachers, books — 
everything necessary to its moral and intellectual improvement, 
and that in the prosecution of our views we are to reject all the 


aids which the ancient institutions of the country and the actual 
attainments of the people afford towards their advancement. 
We have to deal in this country principally, with Hindu s and 
Mohammad ans, the former one of the earliest civilized nations 
of the earth, the latter in some of the brightest periods of their 
history distinguished promoters of science; and both, even in 
their present retrograde stages of civilization, still preserving 
a profound love and veneration for learning nourished by 
those very institutions of which I have spoken, and which it 
would be equally improvident on our part and offensive to them 
to neglect. 

Again, if the maxim that the tendency of knowledge is to 
descend, not to ascend, requires us to have first zilla, next 
pergunnah, and then village schools, it follows that we ought 
not to have even zilla schools till we have provincial colleges, 
nor the latter till we have national universities; nor these till 
we have a cosmopolitan one. But this is an application of the 
maxim foreign to its spirit. Improvement begins with the 
individual and extends to the mass, and the individuals who 
give the stimulus to the mass are doubtless generally found in 
thTupper, that is, the thinking class of society which, especially 
iiTthis country, is not composed exclusively, of those who are 
highest in rank, or who possess the greatest wealth. The truth 
of the maxim does not require that the measures adopted should 
have reference first to large and then to small localities in 
progressive descent. On the contrary the efficiency of every 
successive higher grade of institution cannot be secured except 
by drawing instructed pupils from the next lower grade which, 
consequently by the necessity of the case, dejg&nds ^or 
attent ion. Children should not go to colleges to .learn the 
alphabet. To make the superstructure lofty and firm, the 
foundations should be broad and deep; and thus building from 
tlJSToundations, all classes of institutions and every grade of 
instruction may be combined with harmonious and salutary 

But even this eloq uent defe nce was ^of , no _ayafl and Lord 
Auckland decided to put™ hfsT Report in cold storage. Adam’s 
1 Adam’s Reports, Calcutta Edition, pp. 357-8. 

108 A students’ history of EDUCATION IN INDIA 

proposals, therefore, wept the same way as those of Elphinstone 
and almost for the same reasons. In jaJl thre e Pre- 
s 1 therefore, the indigenous institutions did not receive any 

eDC ouraj;ement from the Company, audits officers concentrated 
Ifigjr on giving a good education to a few rather than 
! UD^eriakigg any direct responsibility for the education of the 
masses, ™ / 

v^) T homason's Pla n : The only experiment for the develop- 
I ment of mass education which escaped this general fate was the 
scheme prepared by Lieutenant-Governor Thomason of the North- 
Western Provinces. This is generally known as Thomason's Plan 
* and deserves a careful study. 

In a circular to Di strict Officials issued in 18j|5, Thomason 
wrote t hat the m eans for educating the people were “at hand 
i n the ind igen o us schools which are scattered over the face of the 
c oun try. Their number may not at present be largeTand the 
/ instruction conveyed in them is known to be rude and elementary. 

! But these numbers may be increased and the instruction conveyed 
\ in them be improved.” 1 These sentiments are obviously the same 
as those of Adam, Munro and Elphinstone. But fortunately, he 
found a good support from the Governor-GeneraFan^^ 
of Directors. His proposa ls were not only not turned down, but 
were highly comme nded, a nd he„was allowed a Jree hand to develop 
educa|ioh in the North-Western Province along his own lines. 
This i s a pl easantly surprising development and is probably due 
to the fact that the Downward Filtration Theory was now being 
abandoned* and thatjjiere was a liberal-minded^over nor-G cnerai 
like Dalhousie to support him. To Thomason, therefore, belongs 
the credit of having made the Central Government and the Court 
of Directors accept the principle that the indigenous schools 
should be developed and improved as a means of spreading 
education among the people. 

The second great achievement of Thomason wa s to ^ levy a 
jy*EP ort °f primary schools. The idea of taxation 
for school purposes was then new to India, and even in England 
no rate for education was Jeyied urdif ,.1870. But as early as 
1851, Thomason began to levy a rate for the supp ort of pr imary 
schools. He avoided the necessity for legislation by making the 

1 Selections from Educational Records , Vol. II, p. 237. 



landholders agree voluntarily to pay a tax of one-half per cent 
on land-revenue for the maintenance of schools and later or, 
obtained the sanction of the Court of Directors to pay an equal 
amount from Government. T homason, t herefore, was the first 
o fficer in India t o levy a local rate for schools and to pay it a 
g rant-in-aid fr om Government treasury. The funds thus obtained 
wcre^ devote d to the maintenance of schools known popularly as 
Halkaba ndi schools . A Halka is a circle or group of villages and 
the organisation of these schools is well explained in the following 

The system of Halkabandi or Circle schools had been devised, 
previously to 1854, for the special pur pose of meeting the wants 
of the agricultural population. Under this system, several 
villages conveniently situated for the purpose are grouped 
together, and in a central situation a school is established, 
which is not to be more than two miles distant from any of 
the villages forming the circle. For the support of these schools, 
the consent of the landowners was to be obtained to the appro- 
priation of a small percentage on the amount of the Govern- 
ment revenue, one per cent being the amount paid, of which 
half was to be contributed by the landowners and half by the 
Government. The voluntary consent of the landowners was 
prescribed as an indispensable condition of the establishment 
of the system in any locality; and at the time of theoutbreak 
in the North-Western Provinces in 1857, the requisite assent 
had been given to the scheme in many of the districts, and the 
sanction of the Home Authorities had been accorded (in 1856) 
to the proposal of the local Government that in the resettle- 
ment of the land revenue, the new plan should be universally 
introduced, and one per cent on the Government demand 
should be set apart in all the districts for the support of this 
hulkabandi system. 1 

The third idea tha t we o we to Mr. Thomason is the organisa- 
tion of a regular E ducat ion Department. His plan for the inspec- 
tion^nd^TmTprovement of indigenous schools, which was first 
introduced as an experimental measure in eight districts in 1850. 
1 Despatch of 1859 , para. 19. 



is thus explained: 

There will be a Government village school at the head- 
quarters of every Tahseeldar. In every two or more Tahseel- 
darees, there will be a Pergunnah visitor. Over these a Zillah 
visitor in each district, and over all a Visitor-General for the 
whole of the Province. 1 

It can easily be seen that the above arrangements were the 
precursor of the Education Department as it was organised after 

These three great contributions (which constitute the Thomason 
Plan) make the work of Thomason extremely valuable and interest- 
ing to a student of educational history. 

The Education of Women: Another important controversy of 
this pericfd referred to the problem of the education of women. 
The almost c omplete abse nce of, Jhe education of women in the 
Indian society of the early nineteenth century has already been 
referred to earlier. Conditions appear to have been parti- 
cularly bad in Bengal as Adam’s Second Report testifies {vide. 
Chapter I) Even in the literary census that Adam conducted, 
he found only 4 women literate (as against 21,907 men) 
in a total population of 496,974. Things appear to have been no 
better in Bombay where no girl pupils attending the indigenous 
schools were reported either in the enquiry of 1823^5fT or in 
that of 1829 {vide Chapter I. Jervis, it is true, reports of 
the existence of domestic instruction of girls among some Muslim 
families and evidence has also been found to show that a similar 
custom existed among certain high caste Hindu families as well. 
But the actual numbers of women thus educated mut have been 
infinitely small. Conditions were apparently better in Madras 
where Munro found that the fi *wjtinen of the Rajabundah and 
some other tribes of Hindus” were generally taugfit and the 
returns of the indigenous schools showed as many as 5,480 girls 
in a total enrolment of 184,110 {vide Chapter I)i fiven better 
is the report from the Punjab where the existence of special 
girls’ schools in charge of women teachers was reported. 

^Selections from Educational Records , Vol. II, p. 249. 

For the rest of India, nothing is known. On the wh ote. 
t herefo re, itjnay bec onclude d that barringan extremely small 
number of women who received some^radii^ ■ 

tion eitber~at home or in schools, general or special, a lmost 
tEF^^g^^the female jM^u lation of the country was deprived 
of ^mal education . 

The social position of women also wasfar from satisfactory. 
Among tl^ MmTims' llie ^yiR oT pur^ah and segregation were the 
chief obst acl es to progress, although women had property rights 
and a liberal set of marriage and divorce laws. Amon g the j lindus, 
child-marriages were very common; wom en had very limited 
property ri^ts^n^^^^arriage laws were far too unfavourable 
t o^yome m T he upper cla ss women suffered from customs such 

lip 181 ? J ^ 0 r w ws * 

while among the^lower castes, customs like Devadasis and female 
infanticide prevailed to some extent. Over and above all these, 
there wa^ am ong ail sections of the male population, a very 
strong social prejudice ag ain st the education of women. This 
was probably the greatest obstacle to be overcome before 
any headway could be made in spreading education among 

S hould the Ea st India Company do anything to promote 
education among the women of Jj^j^and to improve their social 
posTti on?-“th i s w as t he problem that faced the British officials of 
thls^period. The conservative among them refused to have 
anything to do with the subject. They pointed out that tfee 
policy of the Company was one of strict sopial and religious 
neutrality; that the prejudices against the education of women 
which prevailed among the people were so strongly rooted in their 
social and religious life that any attempt to educate women 
would create a very great commotion; and that the first 
attempts of the Company should be restricted to the education 
of men who would themselves, at a jfSbr date, undertake the 
education of their womenfolk. The_ credit ; foj^ haying brought 
about a change in this conservative view goes io Lord William 
Bentinck and Lord D^lhgusie. B entinck c ourageously abolished 
the cruel custom of^Sati; while ^Ddhousfe that the 

open patronage of Government^ should Jbe extended to the 

education of women. The following extract from his orders 

112 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

dated 11th April 1850, gives an indication of his views on the 

2. It is the opinion of the Governor-General in Council that 
no single change in the habits of the people is likely to lead to 
more important and beneficial consequences than the intro- 
duction of education for their female children. The general 
practice is to allow them to grow up in absolute ignorance^ but 
this custom is not required or even sanctioned fey their religion 
and in fact a certain degree of education is now given*"to the 
femjale relatives of those who can afford the expense of enter- 
taining special instructors at their own houses. . . . 

The Governor-General in Council requests that the Council 
of Education may be informed that it is henc eforwar d to 
consider its functions as comprising the superintendence of 
native female education, and that wherever any^Jjsposition 
is shown by the natives to establish female schools it will 
be its duty, to. give them all possible encouragement and 
further their plans in every way that is not inconsistent with the 
efficiency of the institutions already under their management. 
It is the wish also of the Governor-General in Council that 
intimation to the same effect should be given to the Chief Civil 
Officers of the Mofussil calling their attention to the growing 
disposition among the natives to establish female schools, 
and directing them to use all means at their disposal for 
encouraging those institutions and for making it generally 
known that the Government views them with very great 
approbation. 1 

This view, as we shall see, was later on confirmed by the 
Despatch of 1854. 

Official wheels always move slowly, and in spite of the above 
orders of Dalhousie, ofl&ial efforts at the education of women 
made but slow progress till 1853. 

Conclusion: It will be seen from the foregoing discussion that 

this was a periodj>f controversies rather than of achievements. 
The EasfTn3uTCompany was Busy” with commerce, conquest and 

1 Selections from Educational Records , Vol. II, pp. 59-60. 

consolidation, and it Js hwdl^ja,: matter for surprise .f the 
DowtoSTand Officials of the Conapany did not devote sufficient 

a tteSfioT lSd °^ e 

time^wastaken up by discussions regarding the aims of eduction, 
the agencies to be employed, and .the medium of instruction 
The net achievements were insignificant as compared with th 
vastness population and the backwardness of its education. 

Even asjgte as 1855, the total number of educational institutions 

Wthe Compan ? was as small as 

1 474 with only 67,569 pupils, ana the total expenditure on 

total f revem *; 1a T r h e e e 

o^lT^demlng features of the situat.on were two. the large 
expansion of missionary educational enterprise and the small but 
valuable beginning of Indian private enterprise m the mode n 
system of education. These topics, however, will be dealt with in 

tie next chapter. 

Chapter Four 

Non-official Enterprise in Education (1813-53) 
and Wood’s Education -Despatch (1854) 

1 i 

The history of the official attempts to educate the people of 
India in the period between the Charter Act of 1813 and Wood’s 
Education Despatch of 1854 was described in the preceding 
chapter. We shall now describe the non-official attempts in the 
field of education (1813-53) and close the study of this period by 
summarising and evaluating the principal directions of the Edu- 
cation Despatch of 1854 which is the most important educational 
document under the Company and is even referred to, by some 
1 historians, as the “Magna Charta of English Education in 
1 India”. 1 ' ' 

The non-official attempts of this period can be grouped under 
fctjrjprincipal heads: {a) the educational institutions conducted 
by the missionaries; (6) the educational institutions conducted by 
officials of the Company in their individual capacity or by non- 
official Englishmen resident in India; (c) the educational 
institutions of the modern type conducted by Indians themselves; 
and ( d ) the indigenous educational institutions. The official 
attempts to expand and improve the last group of educational 
institutions have already been studied in the preceding chapter. 
We shall now deal, in some detail, with the three remaining 
groups of educational institutions. 

Missionary Educational Enterprise (1813-33): It was pointed out 
in Chapter II that the Charter Act of 1813 opened India to 
Missionary Societies. Consequently, the period from 1813 to 
1833 was one of great mission activity in all parts of the Company’s 
Dominions. The missionary societies that were already working 
Selections from Educational Records, Vol. II, p. 364. 


in India expanded their activities and new societies came into the 
field. Among these latter, special mention must be made of the 
General Baptist Missionary Society, the London Missionary 
^Society, the Church Missionary Society, the Wesleyan Mission 
y and the Scotch Missionary Society. 

Three features regarding the educational work of the mis- 
sionaries deserve special notice. Firstly, it must be remembered 
that education was never the wain object of the missionaries. 
The y aime d at conversions and were obliged to take uj^edu- 
cational worTlh order to meet the needs of the con^rted 
population and, more especially, to train up Indian assistants 
, for their proselytizing activities. S econd ly, the importance which 
the early missionaries attached to the study of modern Indian 
languages deserves special mention. The y h ad to work among 
the lowest classes of s oci^txEbQ could not understand any lan- 
guage except th eir own. Hence the missionaries assiduously 
s 1 ^ 1 c l!°n arie s, wrote books 

on grammar, and translated the Bible into them. It is worthy of 
note that most of the earlier mission schools gave instruction 
through the mother-tongue of the pupils and it never occurred to 
the Indian missionaries to say that “the dialects commonly 
spoked among the natives... are so poor and rude that... it will 
not be easy to translate any valuable work into them** — a state- 
ment regarding the truth of which the Company’s officials were 
entirely convinced! Consequently, the honour of having compiled 
the first school text-books in Indian languages goes to the mis- 
sionaries. Thirdly, the missionaries did extremely valuable pioneer 
work in the field of the education of women — a “dangerous’’ area 
in which the officials of this period refused to tread. The wives 
of |he missionaries and some women mission workers took the 
lead in this matter and began to work for the spread of education 
among women. This was done through three types of activities, 
vfe., (a) opening of day schools for Indian girls, (h) establishment 
of Orphan Homes, and ( c ) domestic instruction or zenana educa- 
tion in the families of the middle and higher classes. 

Another important development of this period was that the 
relations between the Company and the missionaries began to 
improve slowly and steadily. Reference has already been made 
to the extremely strained relations that existed between them in 


the period from 1793 to 1813. But the Charter Act of 1813 
turned a new page. The officials now realised that missionaries 
must be tolerated and allowed to work; on the other hand, the 
missionaries also appear to have shown better tact and discretion 
in their work of proselytization. Consequently, the relations 
between these two groups of workers improved considerably. 
The Company not only recognised the utility of the educational 
work of the missionaries, but occasionally sanctioned grants-in-aid 
for it; the officials of the Company often worked hand in hand 
with missionaries on Societies established for the spread of edu- 
cation among the Indian people; and on the whole, it may be said 
that the distrust and hostility which were so significant a feature 
of the official attitude towards missionaries in the earlier period 
were now a thing of the past. 

Missionary Educational Enterprise (1833-53): The freedom given 
by the Charter Act of 1813 had so far been taken advantage of 
principally by the missionary societies from the United Kingdom. 
But the Charter Act of 1833 brought missions from other countries 
also on the scene. 1 Prominent among them were the German 
and American missions. The Basel Mission Society began work 
at Mangalore in 1834 and soon extended its activities very largely 
in the Kannada and Malayalam territory. Other important 
German Societies were the Protestant Lutheran Missionary Society 
(founded at Dresden in 1836) and Women’s Association of Edu- 
cation of Females in the Orient (founded in Berlin in 1842) both 
of which did considerable missionary work in India, Equally 
important was the appearance of the “well-manned and richly 
financed” American Societies amongst which may be/mentioned 
the American Baptist Union, the American Board, and the 
American Presbyterian Mission Board North. 

In the period prior to 1833, the elementary schools teaching 
through the modern Indian l^gnage^rmed^ the bulk of mission- 
ary educational enterprise. But between *i833 and 1853, the 

14 ‘At the same time, India was thrown open to the whole world and any 
and every honest man who liked might settle there. This provision opened up 
India likewise to the missionary activity of other nations. It was in this year 
that the missionary labours of the Non-English Missionary Societies began 
in India.” — Richter: A History of Missions in India , p. 192. 


missionaries shifted the emphasis to secondary schools and 
colleges teaching through English. This change was dictated by 
two considerations: the first was the belief, already referred to, 
that a study of Western science and literature would inevitably be 
followed by a conversion to Christianity and the second was the 
desire to convert the upper classes of the Hindu Society. The 
missionaries knew that the upper classes desired to study English 
for the worldly advantages it brought and that they would not 
mind joining a mission school (which they otherwise disliked) for 
the sake of learning English. The mission schools and colleges, 
therefore, with their compulsory teaching of the Bible, gave the 
missionaries an excellent and probably their only opportunity to 
contact the boys and girls of the higher castes and to preach the % 
Gospel to them. A lead in this direction was given by Alexander 
Duff, the greatest missionary of this period who himself started an 
English school in Calcutta in 1830. Duff’s faith in the potential 
power of English education to secure converts soon infected almost 
all the missionaries working in the field of Indian education and 
English schools conducted by missionaries began to multiply very 
rapidly after 1830. It was realised even then that the Indian 
pupils joined the missionary schools, not for the sake of religious 
instruction, but to learn English with a view to securing employ- 
ment under Government. It was also soon discovered that the 
pupils put up with the compulsory Bible period as a matter of 
necessity and that they generally showed no interest in the teach- 
ings of Christ. But with the infinite patience and the incorrigible 
optimism that are characteristic of the missionary spirit, the 
workers of the Indian missions toiled in English schools in the 
hope that “some seed at least is sure a strike”. The disillusion- 
ment came later — by about 1870 — but, so far as the period under 
review was concerned, the hopes of a plentiful harvest of conver- 
sions through English schools ran high. Consequently, 

the quarter century, 1 830-57, is the age of the mission school . 
During that period the Government — in spite of the good inten- 
tions of Bentinck— lay really in an apathy which we find it hard 
to understand; for three years Lord Ellenbrough was Governor- 
General, a man who regarded the political ruin of the English 
power as the inevitable consequence of the education of the 


Hindus! Hence at that time the mission Sdbodl exercised a domi- 
natmg influence over Indian Thought which it is difficult to 
estimate nowadays. In Bombay Dr. John Wil son (after Duff the 
most brilliant Scotch missionaryofttelS^fouilded the magni- 
fic 5gL.°ol^ bore his na SgT^CT^adras 

A a “ d Sraidwood opened tieGeneral Assembly’s school 

in 1837, which, under the genial direction of Dr. Miller, the 
most famous educational missionary alive, has became the 
Christian College At Nageur in Central Ind ia. Stephen Hislop 


Church Missionary Society- fQunfiaTSOto Colleg^t Agra, 
the first principal of which was the French; in 

1841 Robert Noble opened the “Noble” College at Masulipatam. 
These were the most famous of the colleges which were erected 
in rapid succession in the most widely separated parts of the 
country under the direct influence and inspiration of Duff, to 
say nothing of other colleges like those built at Calcutta, Madras, 
and Bombay by the National Church of Scotland . 1 

This growth of missonary enterprise, whether in the sphere of 
proselytization or of education, was greatly facilitated by the 
cordial relations that prevailed in this period between the officials 
of the Company and the missionaries/ This- was due to two 
causes: firstly, the period of 1833-53 was one of great reforms and 
liberal ideas in the social life of England with the result that many 
of the Company’s officials were themselves inspired by missionary 
zeal; secondly , the fear that interference with religious institutions 
would be greatly resented by Hindus and Muslims— it was this 
fear that had mainly led to the adoption of the policy of religious 
neutrality in the earlier de cades— was hot entertained seriously 
during this period. One test case wak ihhde out in the abolition 
of Sati. The opponents of this reforms had argued that the 
attempt would lead to revolts. But nothing of the kind happened 
and enlightened Hindus came forward to support the reform and 
thank the Government. Another instance of successful inter- 
vention with the religious institutions lay in the management by 
the Company of rich Hindu temples and Hindu religious 
fairs — an act that aroused no opposition and brought seme 
1 Richter: A History of Missions in India , pp. 183-4. 



profits to the Company to boot. The officials of this period, 
therefore, were not afraid to associate themselves openly with 
the missionaries and encourge their efforts. The relations 
between the missionaries and the officials of the Company, there- 
fore, were extremely cordial between 1833 and 1853 — a fact that 
is in direct contrast to the strained relations that existed between 
them in the period from 1793 to 1813, or to the none too 
warm feelings that prevailed in the two decades between 1813 
and 1833. 

Fairly comprehensive statistics of missionary activity are 
available. 1 It will be seen from them that the mission activity in 
education was almost equal to official enterprise (which had 1,474 
institutions with 67,569 pupils) if the Protestant organisations 
alone are considered. But the total mission activity in edu- 
cation —both Protestant and Roman Catholic — must certainly 
have exceeded the official enterprise. It would, therefore, be 
correct io say that, in 1854, ti»e largest part of educational 
enterprise in India (indigenous schools apart) was provided, not 
b/ the Company, but by the missionaries. It can also be seen 
that the extent of mission activity varied from Province to 
Province. It was extremely widespread and strong in Madras 
partly because it began very early (1706) and panly because the 
extremely hard plight of the Harijans in the South provided a 
more fruitful soil for conversions. It was weakest in the Punjab, 
the next Provinces in order of increasing strength being Central 
India, N.-W.P., Bombay and Bengal. 

Claims of Missionary Enterprise: When Section 43 of the Charter 
Act of 1813 was passed, the object of Parliament was not to 
secure financial assistance to the missionary educational institutions 
(as some missionaries seemed to think), but to create a rival set 
of institutions conducted by the Company or by the Indian 
people in order that there may be “a reliable counterpoise, a 
protecting break- water against the threatened deluge of missionary 
enterprise”. This object was generally kept in view between 
1813 and 1853. That is to say, the Company spent the annual 
grant of a lakh of rupees (ten lakhs from 1833 on wards) in 

1 Vide Nurullah and Naik: History of Education in India during the British 
Period , pp. 177-8. 



maintaining its own institutions and only rarely did it sanction 
any grants-m-aid to mission schools. Consequently, the two 
systems of modern schools, viz., (a) the mission schools with their 
insistence on Bible-teaching and (b) the exclusively secular schools 

S«^3^3 Pa ° ySr ' WUP We| * nd “ 11 >' ° f 

It soon became apparent that the schools of the Company 
would prove serious rivals to the mission schools. The former 
were secular and hence more popular with the Indian people than 
be mission schools whose emphasis on proselytization and Bible- 
teaching was both disliked and feared. Moreover, the schools of 
the Company could command large financial resources which 
the missions could never hope to do. The missionaries, there- 
lore, realised that unless the competition between their schools 
and those of the Company was put an end to and unless their 
financial resources were strengthened, they had no chance of 
survival. They, therefore, put forward the following claims: 

(a) The Company’s schools were secular, i.e., “godless” or 
‘heathen” in the usual missionary parlance. Such schools were 
positively harmful and, therefore, the Bible must be taught in all 
the schools of the Company; 

(b) If this were not possible on political grounds, it was 
argued that the Company should withdraw from direct edu- 
cational enterprise and leave the field clear for the mission 

(c) It was also argued that the Company’s schools were neces- 
sarily costlier, so that it would be wiser to spend the available 
limited resources in giving grants-in-aid to mission schools than in 
maintaining State institutions; 

(d) The missions, it was claimed, had always a moral right to 
receive grant-in-aid from the Company. It was, therefore, argued 
that this moral right should be made a legal one by passing a 
Grant-in-aid Code under which an adequate financial assistance 
would be assured to every mission school; 

( e ) Finally, it was claimed that the ideal state of affairs in 
India would be one in which the Company would withdraw com- 
pletely from direct educational enterprise and all the institutions 
required by the country would be provided by the missions on a 
grant-in-aid basis. 


These claims ignored the private Indian enterprise altogether 
and were based on the misconception that the missions could do 
for India what the Churches did for the poor in England. But 
it took some years to realise these fallacies. For the time 
being, however, missionary influence in England and India was 
so strong and the relations between the officials of the Company 
and the missionaries were so cordial that all these claims 
were accepted in principle, as we shall soon see, by the Despatch 
of 1854. 


Private Educational Enterprise by British Officials and Non- 
officials;^ We discussed missionary enterprise first because it was 
the oldest, and in so far as this period is concerned, the most 
extensive non-official agency in modern education. But the 
missionaries were not the only Europeans to work for modern 
education in India. To their group we must add a large number 
of British officials of the Company who worked in their individual 
capacity and a few British non-officials, chiefly businessmen, who 
assisted the cause of education either as a hobby or as a form of 
social service. Some of them sympathised with the missionary 
ideals and methods and assisted them. Their work need not be 
discussed here because it entirely partook of the character of the 
missionary endeavours which have already been discussed. But 
there were several British officials and non-officials who could not 
lend support to the missionaries either because they belived in 
secular schools or because they wanted to encourage private 
enterprise among the Indian people themselves. The work of 
this small group of British officials and non-officials is even more 
significant than that of the missionaries although it is far less in 
quantity and deserves a close analysis. 

Curiously enough, the pioneer British gentleman who tried to 
build up new educational system for India, but on a plan different 
from that of the missionaries, was a humble watchmaker and 
jeweller from Calcutta, Day id Hare J^ 1842). His early 
education was far from staisfactory and he was not therefore, a 
“scholar” in the usually accepted sense of the term although he 
was generally well informed and had read some of the best 
English authors. Quite modestly, he used to describe himself as 


\ 2 $ 

“an unedkjfcated man friendly to education*’. 1 He came to India 
inT§6b and by 18 i 3 had earned enough to enable him to retire 
from his profession. Instead of returning to England, however, 
he decided to stay on in Calcutta and devote the remainder of his 
life to the improvement of the people of India. W hat interested 
him more than anything else was the spread of education^ Hare 
believed, like the missionaries, that a knowledge ofHthe English 
language and an acquaintance with English literature~was essential 
for the regeneration of the Hindu society; but beinlfa secularist 
himself, he could not agree with them on the subject of religious 
instruction. It was, therefore, his view that India needed secular 
schools and colleges teaching the mother-tongue jt^d^English and 
spreading knowledge of English literature among the people. He 
ha$i a contempt for Sanskrit and no great regard for scientific 
studies and, therefore, excluded them from his programme 
almost completely. It was to show the utility and practicability 
of such an experiment that he worked with zest all his life and 
carried out his most important educational project, the Hindu 
Vidyalaya or College . The most important objecTof this 
institution was to provide good English education to the sons of 
Hindu gentlemen and it was unique in two respects: firstly, it 
was conducted by a committee consisting of Europeans and 
Indians and secondly, it was the first great attempt to provide 
collegiate education of the^estern type on a purely secular basis/ 
Owing to financial difficulties, however, the Vidyalaya was later 
handed oyer to the Company for management and became the 
Presidency College in 1854. But its early histroy is of great 
historical importance because it shows how attempts to provide 
secular education became more popular with the Indian people 
and brought forth their willing co-operation in all respects. 

The main contribution of Hare to the cause of modern educa- 
tion is the principle of secularism. He found that all educational 
enterprise "SfTiis time was dominated by religion — the institutions 
conducted by the Company (like the Banaras Sanskrit College or 
Calcutta Madrassah) were dominated by the teaching of Hinduism 
and Islam, while the missionary institutions were dominated by 
Christianity. He Was convinced that both these types were unsatis- 
factory and evolved a new system in which Bengali and English 

*H.V. Hampton: Biographical Studies in Modern Indian Education t p.60. 


would be taught rather than Sanskrit and Arabic and all religious 
education would be positively eschewed. His contempt for Sanskrit 
was responsible for the exclusion of Oriental studies and his lack 
of scholarship for the neglect of the sciences. The^ whole object of 
thc jnstitution, therefore, was to emphasise the study of English 
language and literature. The institution met with a strong opposi- 
tion from several quarters in the early stages. The exclusion of 
Oriental studies enraged conservative Indians; the failure to em- 
phasise the study of science alienated the sympathies of others, 
while the missionaries challenged the desirability of excluding all 
religious instruction. But very soon, the practical advantages of 
Hare’s concept became patent and the model of the Hindu 
Vidyalaya came to be generally adopted by the Company as well 
as by private Indian enterprise. The Company found that the 
principle of secularism enabled it to maintain its policy of religious 
neutrality, while the emphasis on the study of English language 
and literature enabled it to obtain servants for the Government 
Departments where English was being adopted as the language 
of business. Private Indian enterprise also found it convenient to 
follow the model of the Hindu Vidyalaya because a policy of 
secular education involved no administrative problems and 
because a subordination of scientific studies made the conduct of 
the institutions less costly and difficult. For several years to come, 
therefore, the modern educational institutions started in India, 
either by the Company or by private Indian enterprise, were based 
on Hare’s model of the Hindu Vidyalaya, that is to say, secular 
educational institutions whose chief object was to acquaint the 
students with English language and literature. Scientific and 
Oriental studies were included later on in varying proportions, 
and to that extent, the original design of Hare may be said to 
have been modified by later developments. But his concept of 
secularism remains the prominent feature of all Government (and 
most private Indian institutions as well) even to this day. 

David Hare was a non-official and could, therefore, chalk out 
his own policy with freedom. The officials of the Company, on 
the other band, had to work under several limitations. They 
could not/for obvious reasons undertake any activity to which 
the Company was directly opposed. But they could certainly 
engage individually in any activity to which the Company did not 


object but which, for some reason on the other, it refused directly 
to undertake. Several broad-minded ofScials. th^foie, organised 
or assisted, in their individual capacity, such educatktt?} projects 
as the Company would not countenance or support but which, in 
their opinion, were essential to the progress of India. A good 
illustration of this type of work is provided in tfae life oiJM.D. 
Bethu^ (1801-51) who was the taw-m^^ oTthe lxeSutive 
Council of the Governor-General and the President of the Council 
of Education from 1848 to 1851. He was keenly interested in the 
education of women but as the Company was not prepared to 
countenance any effort at the education of women* the channel 
of official enterprise was closed to him. Bethmte was also con- 
vinced that respectable Hindus would never educate their daughters 
in the mission schools because of the missionary insistence on 
religious instruction. He, therefore, decided to fwtoMIrii « secular 
school for Indian girls in his own individual capic^ add to bear 
all the expenses thereof. 

The success of the school which began to function in hiay 1849 
was almost phenomenal. Within a short time, it attracted a fairly 
large number of girls whose eagerness to learn, docility and quick- 
ness corresponded, in the opinion of Bethune, to those of the 
boys and even surpassed “what is found among European girls 
of the same age”. 1 But even more important were two other 
results: enlightened Indians at once came forward to snpport the 
experiment and the example of the school began: to be copied 
elsewhere. Bethune dkd at CaJcutta i n 1851and. Jn his will 
e ndowed the school with all the land s an d property he had in the 
city. It was then taken over by Lord DtShousie W h o paid, fo r it 
from his own private purs e until the ComDaov tbc^lt o ver. As 
a proper tribute to this great man^t^^hoor ^ ^ ^penpa nently 
associated with his nam e and i t soon ihe Be thune 

College — a pioneer and important institution for the education of 
India n wom en. 

This experiment is but an instance from several educational 
experiments made by British officials working in their individual 
capacity. They are too numerous to be mentioned in a book of 
this type; and cover, not onfty education, but other branches of 
social service as well. Bethune’s school should, therefore, be 

l Selectians from Educational Records, Vol. II, p. 5S. 


regarded, not as an individual institution, but as representative 
of a group of institutions started and financed by officials in 
their individual capacity, because their views were not acceptable 
either to the Company or to the missionaries. These attempts, it 
should be noted, exercised a greater influence on tjie Indian mind, 
on account of their transparent sincerity and secular character, 
than those made either by the Company or the proselytizing 

Of a different type was the experiment made by Mountstuart 
Eiphinstone in Bombay. When he became Governor of the 
Province in 1819, he found that the only non-official body 
(excluding the missions) which tried to provide modern education 
to the people was the B ombay Educ ation Society. This had been < 
estaMi^e^n 1 8 15 by memberTof the Church of England resi- 
dent in Bombay with the principal object of training Anglo- 
Indian or poor European children. It began its activities by 
taking over the Charity School established in Bombay by Rev. 
Richard Cobbe in 1719 and by starting others. As the society 
admitted Indian children also to its schools without compelling 
them to be present at religious instruction, many Hindu, Parsee 
and Muslim children attended them. By 1820, the Society con- 
ducted four schools for Indian children with about 250 pupils on 
their rolls. In the same year, the Society appointed a special 
committee. The objects of this Committee were twofold; to 
improve existing schools for Indian children and establish or aid 
new ones — wherever necessary; and secondly, to prepare books 
for the use of Indian children under instruction. By 1822, the 
Society’s work for Indian children had grown considerably and 
it, therefore, rightly felt that it had undertaken activities which 
went far beyond its original aims. Hence the special Committee 
appointed by it two years earlier was now formed into a separate 
Society called the Bombay Native School Book and ^School 
Society (known by the handier epithet of Bombay Native Educa- 
tion Society since 1827), to look after the education of Indian 
children and the parent Society restricted its activities to the 
education of European or Anglo-Indian children only. It was 
mainly the encouragement and guidance of Mountstuart Elphin- 
st one th at was responsible for this independent organisation of 
the B.N.E. Society. He also agreed to be its President and made 





the Directors sanction a grant-in-aid to the Society and accept 
it as the principal agency for the spread of education among the 
Indian people. It would be no exaggeration to say that it was 
this paternal interest of Elphinstone that enabled the B.N.E. 
Society to develop into an august body and, through its activities 
give practical training to Indians in organising and conducting 
associations for the spread of education. 

These efforts of Elphinstone show how some of the broad- 
minded officials of this period tried to develop private Indian 
enterprise in modern education. They were convinced that neither 
missionaries nor the Company could provide all the educational 
institutions which the country needed that, after all, a people 
must educate themselves; that the very attempts to educate them- 
selves form an important type of social education which a people 
can never obtain through a ready-made system of schools pro- 
vided by an alien agency; and that private Indian enterprise must 
ultimately be developed to provide the bulk of the new educational 
institutions which were necessary to regenerate the country. They, 
therefore, took measures to bring forth and develop private 
Indian enterprise in education. The Indians of this period, it must 
be noted, were new to the modern methods of co-operative and 
organised educational enterprise and needed both initiation . and 
guidance. This came readily from those enlightened officials-of the 
Company who had a sense of duty to the country. They contact- 
ed leading Indians, convinced them of the necessity of private 
educational enterprise on modern lines, and showed them how 'to 
form and conduct societies for the purpose. Such a guidance was 
both necessary and valuable and could not have come from the 
missionaries partly because of their desire to monopolise the field 
and partlv because of their insistence on Bible-teaching; and had 
it not been for the fostering care of officials working in their 
individual capacity, private Indian enterprise in education would 
have taken a very much longer time to develop. 

^Private Indian Enterprise in Education (1813-53)! Prior to 
.1854, private Indian enterprise in education was responsible for 
two entirely different types of activities. The first of the r e was the 
conduct of the indigenous schools — both higher and elementary — 
which still formed the most widelv spread, the most numerous 

and the most important agency for the education of the people. 
But these were neither recognised nor assisted by the Company 
and in so far as the development of the modern system 
of education is concerned, this extensive activity of private 
Indian enterprise will just have to be ignored. Ihe second 
type of private Indian enterprise was that which went to 
the building up of the modern system of education in India— an 
activity wherein, prior to 1854, Indians played a very minor role. 
This was due to a variety of circumstances. To begin with, the 
whole weight of conservative opinion was against the new system 
of education. The orthodox parents refused to send their children 
to English schools because they were afraid that English education 
made young men lose faith in the religious beliefs and practices 
of their forefathers— a fear that was not quite groundless. They 
even objected to the ideas from Western knowledge which were 
being spread through the Indian languages in the new type of 
primary schools and feared that all this new education was part 
of some secret plan to tamper with their religion. In these 
circumstances, it. required an immense amount of moral courage 
to come forward to preach the utility of the -new education or to 
conduct institutions based on the new ideals, and very few 
individuals could have such courage. Seconly, the educational 
institutions of the modern type could only be conducted by persons 
who were educated in the new system. The number of such 
Indians was very small and most of them could easily find a job 
in some important Government Department which at once brought 
them money, social status and executive authority. They were, 
therefore, naturally unwilling to start and conduct private schools 
which then, as now, were but an ill-paid form of social service. 
Thirdly, there were certain concepts prevalent at this time which 
created special difficulties for Indian private enterprise, e.g., it was 
believed that the Ptincipals of English schools and colleges must 
be Europeans. This requirement could easily be fulfilled by the 
Company or by ; he missionaries. But how could Indians, even 
if they raised the necessary funds, find European employees to 
superintend their schools and colleges? This was probably the 
biggest stumbling block and it was overcome only when -Govern- 
ment stopped demanding the employment of Europeans as Heads 
of schools and colleges and a band of Indians competent to hold 


such posts was created. But this result could be achieved only 
by 1880 or thereafter and in so far as the period under review is 
concerned, Indian private enterprise was at a great handicap in 
the conduct of secondary and collegiate institutions. Lastly, 
Indians were new to the co-operative organisation of educational 
institutions and were just having their first lessons in conducting 
modern educational institutions at the hands of a few liberal 
officials and non-officials, here and there, and they had not yet 
pooled together enough experience to show any substantial results. 
It is, therefore, hardly a matter of surprise that modern educational 
institutions conducted by Indians formed a very small minority 
even in 1854. What matters to students of history, therefore, is 
not the quantitative, but the qualitative and ideological aspects of 
Indian private enterprise and these can be very well illustrated 
through the life of Raja Ram Mohan Roy. 

Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833): Born in Radhanagar he 
was aptly described as the Father of Modern India He came 
from an ancient and respectable Brahmin family and before he 
was sixteen years old, acquired a thorough knowledge of Sanskrit, 
Persian and Arabic. His study of sufi philosophy and the Koran 
had brought about such a change of views in him that endless 
disputes arose with his orthodox father and he, therfore, left his 
home and wandered about India for 3 or 4 years studying the 
religious beliefs and social practices of the people. But a concilia- 
tion soon took place and he returned home. Already in 1796, 
he had begun the study of English and later on, he also studied 
Hebrew and Greek in order to be able to study the New and Old 
Testaments in the original. In 1803, he lost his father and, in the 
following year, he joined the service of the Company and, by his 
industry and ability, soon rose to the post of the Dewan — the 
highest post in the Revenue Department then open to Indians. 
He amassed a moderate fortune and in 1814 retired from service 
in order to devote all his time to the service of his motherland. 

The next twenty years — between his retirement in 1814 and 
death at Bristol in 1833 — form a crowded era of public service. 

Moban Roy’s work touched several aspects of Indian life, 
and the following important services rendered by him to the 
country may be mentioned here: 



$) He was a staunch opponent of the cruel custom of sati and 
lent strong and valuable support to Bentinck in abolishing it. 
vf&) He stood for a more equitable and humane treatment of 
women; advocated the grant of property rights to them; was a 
champion of their education; roundly condemned polygamy and, 
in his will, disinherited any son or descendant who would have 
more than one wife at a time; had his granddaughter married 
at the age of 16 and was obviously opposed to child-marriage; 
had no faith in the alleged inferiority of women. In^ short, he was 
one of the earliest champions of women’s rights in modern India 
and started a movement for their emancipation which gathered 
great momem on. 

v (cT^He was a great religious reformer. Being a student of 
comparative religion, he found that all religions had several com- 
mon points. On the basis of his study, he evolved a purificatory 
movement within Hinduism itself— the Brahmo Samaj. As 
Rabindranath Tagore observes, “He extended wide his heart, and 
invited Hindu, Mussalman and Christian there, for in the expanse 
of his heart there was no lack of space for any one of them. In 
this it was the real heart of India that he revealed and expressed 
in himself her tiuest character. For the truth of India is in the 
man who honours all and accepts all in his heart.” 1 

He was a pioneer among the nation-builders of modern 
India. He visualised an educated, cultured, rich and free India 
and tried to carry out certain reforms ip the administrative system 
of his day. He advocated the use of English in law-courts, trial 
by jury, separation of the executive from the judiciary, and 
codification of criminal and other laws. As editor of the 
Bengali Journal, Sambad Kaumudi , published in 1821, he may 
be" regarded as the virtual “Founder of Modern Indian Press” 
whose liberty he strongly defended against official attacks. 

^ We are more concerned here with the work of Raja Ram 
Mohan Roy as an educationist, and it is in this field that we find 
his most signal services to his country. He was one of the earliest 
Indians to realise that India’s greatest need was a synthesis of 
Eastern and Western cultures. Being a great Sanskrit scholar 
himself and having been deeply convinced of the truth and 
greatness of the ancient and pure form of Hinduism, he would not 

* x The Father o j Modern India , p. 232. 



be a party to the wholesale condemnation of Eastern culture and 
religion which was so fashionable in missionary circles, nor would 
he subscribe to the view that the Eastern culture must be replaced 
by the Western. At the same time, he understood that the Indian 
mind had rusted very considerably on account of its isolation and 
realised that contact with Western literature and science alone 
could regenerate Oriental culture, correct its follies and contribute 
to it the essential qualities which it lacked. He, therefore, sawi 
(together with a few other men of vision) “the need of a new ! 
synthesis of the best that Europe and Asia had to give and strove, 
consequently, to weave into the tapestry of Indian life such threads | 
from the spindles of the West, without bringing about a complete 
alteration in the pattern upon the Indian loom”, 1 This great 
vision makes the Raja a prophet of modern India. It is true that 
this advice went unheeded for a time; but ultimately, it 

The second I jreat contribution of the Raja to the modern 
system of education was ^ popularise a study of English lan- 
guage and through it, of Western science and literature. Al- 
though a great Sanskrit scholar himself, he deprecated all the 
official attempts to educate Indians through Sanskrit and Arabic 
and, as stated already in Chapter III, petitioned the Govern- 
ment to abandon its project for Oriental education and *to 
undertake the teaching of Western science and literature instead. 
It is true that he can claim no originality for this view 
and that it had already been put forward by men like Grant. 
But it must be remembered that the Raja’s advocacy of the -study 
of English and Western science and literature produced effects 
which were different from anything that had gone before. In 
the first place, he was a Hindu talking to other Hindus and this 
consideration alone made his appeal far stronger and more power- 
ful than that of missionaries or officials whose motives were 
generally suspect. Secondly, he could overcome several fears 
which prevented the contemporary Hindu society from taking 
freely to the study of English or Western science and literature. 
The orthodox Hindus were afraid that such studies might make a 
young man an atheist, or a convert to Christianity or an un- 
balanced rebel against all tradition. The early examples of some 

1 Earl of Ronaldshay: The Heart of Aryavarta , p. 48. 


educated Hindu youths confirmed these fears. Some of them 
became actual converts to Christianity; others remained within 
the Hindu fold but lost all devotion to traditional religion; while 
a large number led culturally unsettled lives and delighted in 
exhibiting the so-called Western virtues of eating beef or drinking 
wine. Ram Mohan Roy showed, both by precept and example, 
that these consequences were not inevitable in Western education. 
He proved that a synthesis of Eastern and Western cultures was 
possible and although his method of the synthesis was not accept- 
able to many, he could convince his co-religionists that Western 
education was not always culturally dangerous as it was supposed 
to be. He thus acted as one of the earliest Indian interpreters of 
the West to India. 

TbjnH^he^did^an equal or even more valuable service in inter- 
preting India to England. He tried his utmost to dispel the absurd 
notions which then prevailed regarding the nature of Hinduism, 
the poverty of the ancient literatures in Sanskrit, the lack of 
character and moral values among Indians, etc. His great learning, 
unimpeachable character, lucid and convincing exposition of his 
deep religious beliefs showed to Englishmen that it would be 
wrong to condemn summarily all Eastern learning and religion 
and that a judicious study of Oriental culture ought to have a 
place in the modern educational system of India — a view that was 
later on accepted by the Despatch of 1854 as well. 

The fourth great contribution of the Raja to the system of 
modern education was his emphasis on the study of modern 
Indian languages. He himself gave a great lead in the matter by 
writing books in Bengali on Grammar, Geography, Astronomy 
and Geometry and he is considered as the father of modern liter- 
ary Bengali prose. He was also the first to write theistic poems in 
Bengali. Hts advocacy of the study and development of modern 
Indian languages, although unheeded for a long time, was certain- 
ly a great contribution to the educational thought of his times. 

Equally able was the Raja’s advocacy of the education of 
women. Although the concept had already been put forward by 
missionaries, it was the Raja who helped to popularise it among 
the Hindus. He took his stand on the old shastras and convin- 
cingly showed that in ancient times, the women of India were 
highly educated and that the education of women was in keeping 


with ancient religious traditions and beliefs. The Brahmo Samaj 
did great service in removing the popular prejudices against the 
education of women that were then prevalent in the Hindu society 
and the credit for this goes mostly to Ram Mohan Roy. 

In 1830, the Raja went to England and gave very valuable 
evidence before the Select Committee of the House of Commons 
in 1833. In this last great act of his life the Raja urged, among 
other reforms, the codification of civil and criminal laws and the 
appointment of Indians to important posts under Government. 
Both these proposals were accepted and incorporated in the 
Charter Act of 1833. In order to carry out the first, a Law- 
Member was added to the Council of the Governor-General and 
a little later, Macaulay came out to India as the first person to 
hold the post. On the second proposal, the Raja had lodged a 
strong protest against the policy of excluding Indians from all 
but the inferior posts under Government. This view of the only 
Indian who was in a position to place it before Parliament was 
also supported by several other British witnesses before the Com- 
mittee and was, therefore, accepted without much difficulty. 
Section 87 of the Charter Act of 1833 provided “that no native 
of the said territories, nor any natural bom subject of his Majesty 
resident therein, shall, by reason only of his religion, place of 
birth, descent, colour, or apy of them, be disabled from holding 
any place, office, or employment under the said Company”. 

Unfortunately, this clause mostly remained on paper for several 
years. But that does not detract in any way from the signal 
service which the Raja did to the cause of political regeneration 
of India by making Parliament accept, in principle at least, the 
doctrine of the Indianisation of key-posts under Government. 

It is for these and other valuable services that the Raja is 
called “The Father of Modern India”. 

The Despatch of 1854: It will be seen from the events of the 
period between 1813 and 1853 narrated in this and the preceding 
chapter that, by 1853, a stage had been reached when a compre- 
hensive survey of the whole field of education in India was in- 
dispensable. Since the Charter Act of 1813, several educational 
experiments had been tried; a number of agencies had been at 
work, in their own ways, to spread education among the people; 

non-official enterprise in education 133 

ggveral controversies had been raised and some of them 
still needed a final decision; various policies for action had been 
oroposed and they involved controversial issues which needed 
careful consideration. It was, in short, a time when the best 
results could be obtained only by holding a thorough and compre- 
hensive review of the past and by prescribing in the light of this 
review, a detailed policy for educational reconstruction in the 
future. This was exactly what the Education Despatch of 1854 did. 

*The occasion for the Despatch was provided by the renewal 
of the Company’s Charter in 1853. At this time, as at the earlier 
renewals of the Charter in 1813 and 1833, a Select Committee of 
the House of Commons held a very thorough enquiry into educa- 
tionaTdevelopments in India. On the basis of this enquiry, the 
Court of Directors sent down their greatest Educational Despatch 
■ on" 19 July 1854. This document of immense historical impor- 
tan ce is so metimes desc ribed as Wood's Education Despatch 
because^ was probably written at the instance of Charles Wood 
who was then the President of the Board of Control. It is a long 
document of a hundred paragraphs and deals with several ques- 
tions of great educational importance. 

Objects of Educational Policy; To begin with, the Despatch 
explains why the Company undertook the organisation of educa- 
tion in India and the results that it expected therefrom: 

Among many subjects of importance, none can have a stron- 
ger claim to our attention than that of education. It is one of 
our most sacred duties, to be the means, as far as in us lies, 
of conferring upon the natives of India those vast moral and 
material blessings which flow from the general diffusion of use- 
ful knowledge, and which India may, under Providence, derive 
from her connexion with England. . . . 

We have, moreover, always looked upon the encouragement 
of education peculiarly important, because calculated “not only 
to produce a higher degree of intellectual fitness, but to raise 
the moral character of those who partake of its advantages, 
and so to supply you with servants to whose probity you may 
with increased confidence commit offices of trust”. ... 

Nor, while the character of England is deeply concerned in 



the success of our efforts for the promotion of education, are 
her material interests altogether unaffected by the advance of 
European knowledge in India; this knowledge will teach the 
natives of India the marvellous results of the employment of 
labour and capital, rouse them to emulate us in the develop- 
ment of the vast resources of their country, guide them in their 
efforts, and gradually, but certainly, confer upon them all the 
advantages which accompany the healthy increase of wealth 
and commerce; and, at the same time, secure to us a large and 
more certain supply of many articles necessary for our manu- 
factures and extensively consumed by all classes of our popula- 
tion, as well as an almost inexhaustible demand for the produce 
of British labour. 

Controversy between the Anglicists and Classicists: The Despatch 
then refers to the controversy between the Classicists and Angli- 
cists in Bengal. It is worthy of note that the Despatch does not 
condemn the view of the Oriental party in a summary fashion as 
Macaulay did. It appreciates the advantages that spring from 
a study of the classical languages of India, and admits that "an 
acquaintance with the works contained in them is valuable for 
historical and antiquarian purposes, and a knowledge of the 
languages themselves is required in the study of Hindoo and 
Mahomedan law, and is also of great importance for the critical 
cultivation and improvement of the vernacular languages of 
India”. It also mentions "the success of many distinguished 
Oriental scholars in their praiseworthy endeavours to engraft 
upon portions of Hindoo philosophy the gems of sounder morals 
and of more advanced science;” . . . and "the good effect 
which has thus been produced upon the learned classes of India, 
who pay hereditary veneration to those ancient languages”. 
Nevertheless, the Despatch agrees with Lord Macaulay and points 
out that "the system of science and philosophy which forms the 
learning of the East abounds with grave errors, and Eastern 
literature is at best very deficient as regards all modern discovery 
and improvement and concludes the discussion with the 
following declaration: 

We must emnhatically declare that the education which we 


desire to see extended in India is that which has for its object 
the diffusion of the improved arts, science, philosophy and 
literature of Europe; in short of European knowledge. 

Medium of Instruction: The question of the medium of instruc- 
tion is next dealt with. The Despatch first explains how it became 
necessary in the beginning to use English as a medium of instruc- 
tion "owing to the want of translates or adaptations of 
European works in the vernacular languages of India to the very 
imperfect shape in which European knowledge is to be found in 
any works in the learned languages of the East”. It admits, 
however, that one evil result of the measure had been to create a 
tendency to neglect the study of the "vernacular languages”. The 
Despatch was used as a medium of instruction by the Company 
merely to suppress indigenous education or to discourage the 
study of Indian languages and shows how English and Indian 
languages together may help to spread proper education in India. 
It says: 

f y In any general system of education, English language should 
' M)e taught where there is a demand for it; but such instruction 
should always be combined with a careful attention to the study 
of the vernacular language of the district, and with such general 
instruction as can be conveyed through that language; and 
while the English language continues to be made use of as by 
far the most perfect medium for the education of those persons 
who have acquired a sufficient knowledge of it to receive general 
instruction through it, the vernacular languages must be employed 
to teach the far larger classes who are ignorant of, or imper- 
fectly acquainted with, English. This can only be done effectually 
through the instrumentality of masters and professors, who may, 
by themselves, knowing English and thus having full access to 
the latest improvements in knowledge of every kind, impart to 
their countrymen, through the medium of their mother-tongue, 
the information which they have thus obtained. At the same 
time, and as the importance of the vernacular becomes more 
appreciated, the vernacular literature of India will be gradually 
enriched by translations of European books or by the original 
compositions of men whose minds have been imbued with the 

136 A students’ history of education IN INDIA 

spirit of European advancement, so that European knowledge 
may gradually be placed in this manner within the reach of all 
classes of the people. We look, therefore, to the English 
language and to the vernacular languages of India together as 
the media for the diffusion of European knowledge, and it is our 
desire to see them cultivated together in all schools in India of 
a sufficiently high class to maintain a schoolmaster possessing the 
requisite qualifications. 

It will be seen that all the three problems dealt with in 
\ the Despatch so far are old controversies, and that the Despatch 
| does nothing more than to sum up the < conclusions already 
( reached. 

• , / 

v" New Schemes: (a) The Education Department : The Despatch then 
proceeds to explain the new schemes that were to be intro- 
duced. The first of these was the creation of a Department of 
Public Instruction in each of the five provinces into which the 
territory of the Company were divided at that time, viz., Bengal, 
Madras, Bombay, the North-Western Province and the Punjab. 
This department was to be placed under an important officer to 
be called the Director of Public Instruction. He was to be assisted 
by an adequate number of Inspecting Officers and was required 
to submit to Government an annual report on the progress of 
education in his province. 

\/{b) Universities: The second scheme related to the establish- 
ment of Universities. As we have already seen, the proposal for 
the establishment of a University at Calcutta made by the Counci 1 
of Education in 1854 was negatived by the Directors on the ground 
that it was then premature. But now they felt that the time for 
the establishment of Universities had arrived, because of the spread 
of liberal education among Indians and the requirements of an 
increasing European and Anglo-Indian population. The Despatch, 
therefore, directs that universities should be established at Calcutta 
and Bombay and states that the Directors were “ready to sanction 
the creation of a University at Madras, or in any part of India, 
where a sufficient number of institutions exist, from which properly 
1 qualified candidates for degrees could be supplied”. All the 
^ Universities were to be modelled on the London University which 


an examining body. Their senates were to consist of a 
Chancellor, a Vice-Chancellor, and Fellows— all of whom were to 
be nominated by Government. The functions of the Universities 
were mainlv to hold examinations and confer degrees. But it is 
extremely interesting to note that even at this early date the 
Despatch advised the institution of professorships in various 
branches of learning- 

Vfc) Establishment of a Network of Graded Schools all over 
India: Having described the two new schemes mentioned above, 
viz., the creation of the Education Department and the establish- 
ment of Universities, the Despatch proceeds to explain the network 
of graded schools which the Directors desired to spread all over 
the^counfry. At one end of this gradation came the University 
and the affiliated colleges which gave instruction in various 
branches of art and science. Below these, came the high schools 
which gave instruction either through English or through a modern 
Indian language, and at the botton came the indigenous primary 

The Despatch admitted that most of the attempts of Govern- 
ment in the past had been directed to the establishment of colleges 
which absorbed the greater part of the public funds that were then 
applied to education, and regretted the adoption of the Downward 
Filtration Theory which led “to too exclusive a direction of the 1 
efforts of Government towards providing the means of acquiring / 
a very high degree of education for a very small number of natives j 
of India drawn, for the most part, from the higher classes”. After 
stating that these higher classes may now be made to stand on 
their own legs, the Despatch observes: 

Our attention should now be directed to a consideration, if 
possible, still more important, and one which has been hitherto, 
we are bound to admit, too mu ch neglected, namely, how useful 
and practical knowledge, suited to every station of life, may be 
best conveyed to the great mass of the people, who are utterly 
incapable of obtaining any education worthy of the name by 
their o wn unaided efforts, and we desire to see the active measures 
of Government more especially directed, for the future, to this 
object, for the attainment of which we are ready to sanction a 
considerable increase of expenditure. 



To achieve this purpose, the Directors recommended a multipli- 
cation of High Schools. It is not generally understood that the 
Despatch visualised High Schools which imparted good general 
education through the Indian languages, but the following para- 
graph will make the whole position clear: 

We include these Anglo-vernacular and vernacular schools in 
the same class, because we are unwilling to maintain the broad 
line of separation which at present exists between schools 
in which the media for imparting instruction differ. The 
knowledge conveyed is no doubt, at the present time, much 
higher in the Anglo-vernacular than in the vernacular schools; 
but the difference will become less marked, and the latter more 
efficient as the gradual enrichment of the vernacular languages 
in works of education allows their schemes of study to be 
enlarged, and as a more numerous class of schoolmasters is 
raised up, able to impart a superior education. 

Below the High and Middle Schools came the indigenous 
elementary schools which the Directors proposed to encourage by 
suitable grant-in-aid. In this connection, the Directors drew the 
attention of the Government of India to the plan for encouraging 
indigenous schools adopted by Thomason in the North-Western 
Province and recommended its adoption as largely as possible. 

As a connecting link between these various grades of schools, 
it was proposed to institute schoIarsffip.O&J^J^^.. to promising 
pupils in order to enable them to continue their studies at a higher 
school or college. As the Despatch observes: 

Such a system as this, placed in all its degrees under efficient 
inspection, beginning with the humblest elementary instruction, 
and ending with the university test of a liberal education, the 
best students in each class of schools being encouraged by the 
aid afforded them towards obtaining superior education as the 
reward of merit, by means of such a system of scholarships as 
we shall have to describe, would* we firmly believe, impart life 
and energy to education in India and lead to a gradual, but 
steady extension of its benefits to all classes of the people. 


The above proposals of the Despatch have three important 
features — the rejection of the Downward Filtration Theory, the 
adoption of the modern Indian languages as media of instruction 
at the secondary stage, and the inclusion of indigenous schools 
as the very foundation of a national system of education. In all 
these principles, the Despatch marked a reversal of the retrograde 
policy laid down by Lord Auckland. 

Grant-in- Aid: Excellent as this scheme was, it was obvious 

that, when fully carried out, it would have involved the Company 
in an enormous expenditure which it would not have been able to 
bear without additional taxation. Unfortunately, the Directors 
shirked to face this problem squarely. They made a non-com- 
mittal remark that they were prepared to sanction “a considerable 
increase in expenditure” for their new programme and naively 
believed that a policy of giving grant-in-aid to private effort would 
solve the difficulties in Indian education as it had solved those of 
mass education in England. They said: 

The consideration of the impossibility of Government alone 
doing all that must be done in order to provide adequate means 
for the education of the natives of India, and of the ready assis- 
tance which may be derived from efforts which have hitherto 
received but little encouragement from the State, has led us to 
the natural conclusion that the most effectual method of provid- 
ing for the wants of India in this respect will be to combine with 
the agency of the Government the aid which may be derived 
from the exertions and the liberality of the educated and wealthy 
natives of India, and of other benevolent persons. 

We have, therefore, resolved to adopt in India the system of 
grants-in-aid which has been carried out in this country with 
very great success; and we confidently anticipate by thus 
drawing support from local resources, in addition to contribu- 
tions from the State, a far more rapid progress of education 
than would follow a mere increase of expenditure by Govern- 
ment; while it possesses the additional advantage of fostering 
a spirit of reliance upon local exertions and combination for 
local purposes, which is of itself of no mean importance to the 
well-being of a nation. 


The Despatch then suggests certain general considerations in 
the light of which each Provincial Government was expected to 
frame its own rules of grant-in-aid. For instance, aid was to be 
given to all schools which 

^(i)- impart a good secular education, any religious instruc- 
tion which they may impart being simply ignored; 

^fi) possess good local management; 

sJttii) agree to submit to inspection by Government officers 
and to abide by such other conditions as may be pre- 
scribed; and 

s (iv) levy a fee, however small* from the pupils. 

The discussion of the subject is then concluded in the follow- 
ing words: 

We look forward to the time when any general system of 
education entirely provided by Government may be discon- 
tinued, with the gradual advance of the system of grant-in-aid, 
and when many of the existing Government institutions, 
especially those of the higher order, may be safely closed, or 
transferred to the management of local bodies under the 
control of, and aided by, the State. 

One wonders at this emphasis on a grant-in-aid system at a 
time when Indian enterprise had hardly begun and missionary 
enterprise was quite out of proportion to the needs of the popula- 
tion. But the following comment of a missionary on this part of 
the Despatch is illuminating: 

In connection with the second definite move, in the new 
Indian educational policy, the famous “Educational 
Despatch” of Sir Chas. Wood (later Lord Halifax) on July 
19th, 1854, Duff exercised, along with his distinguished friend 
Sir Chas. Trevelyan, a definite influence. When the protracted 
and complicated negotiations anterior to the last renewal of 
the East India Charter were going on in 1852, Duff was in 
England, and he was accepted, even in Government circles, as 
a supreme authority on Indian affairs. Frequently consulted 


upon this question, he threw the whole weight of his personality 
into the balance in order that this Magna Charta of Indian 
education might pass into law. ... 

For missions too this grant-in-aid system was of great impor- 
tance. Whereas formerly, in spite of the benevolent decrees of 
a Bentinck or a Hardinge, the Government had been loath to 
grant financial aid to mission schools, missions now had the 
additional claim of a legal right . And as missionaries like Dr. 
Duff had a distinct influence in the shaping of the famous 
Despatch, it was perfectly clear that the main tendency of then 
new grant-in-aid system was to encourage the various missions 
to engage in the very congenial work of elementary education J- 
to a larger extent than ever before. 1 

In this connection, the attitude of the Despatch towards re- 
ligious instruction is also worthy of note as it shows the official 
sympathy for missionary effort. So far as aided schools were 
concerned (which in those days meant missionary schools only) 
the Despatch desired that the Inspecting Officers should take “no 
notice whatsoever .... of the religious doctrines that may be 
taught in any school”. As regards Government institutions, the 
Despatch stated: 

Considerable misapprehension appears to exist as to our 
views with respect to religious instruction in the Government 
institutions. Those institutions were founded for the benefit of 
the whole population of India; and in order to effect their object 
it was, and is, indispensable that the education conveyed in them 
should be exclusively secular. The Bible is, we understand, 
placed in the libraries of the colleges and schools and the pupils 
are able freely to consult it. This is as it should be; and, 
moreover, we have no desire to prevent, or discourage, any 
explanations which the pupils may, of their own free will, ask 
from the masters upon the subject of the Christian religon 
provided that such information be given out of school hours. 
Such instruction being entirely voluntary on both sides, it is 
necessary, in order to prevent the slightest suspicion of an 
intention on our part to make use of ' the influence of 
1 Richter : A History of Missions in India , p. 180 (Italics ours). 





Government for the purpose of proselytism, that no notice shall 
be taken of it by the inspectors in their periodical visits. 

^(e) Training of Teachers : The Despatch then proceeds to 
consider the question of securing properly qualified teachers for 
schools, and says: 

We cannot do better than refer you to the plan" which has 
been adopted in Great Britain for this subject, and which 
appears to us to be capable of easy adaptation to India. It 
mainly consists, as you will perceive on reference to the Minutes 
of the Committee of Council, copies of which we enclose, in 
the selection and stipend of pupil-teachers (awarding a small 
payment to the masters of the schools in which they are 
employed for the instruction out of school hours); their 
ultimate removal, if they prove worthy, to normal schools; 
the issue to them of certificates on the completion of their 
training in those normal schools; and in securing to them a 
sufficient salary when they are afterwards employed as school- 
masters. This system should be carried out in India, both in 
the Government colleges and schools, and, by means of grants- 
in-aid, in all institutions which are brought under Goveuiment 
inspection. ... 

Our wish is that the profession of schoolmaster may, for the 
future, afford inducements to the natives of India such as' are 
held out in other branches of the public service. 


Education and Employment: The question of giving encourage- 

ment to educated Indians is then taken up. The Despatch states: 

We have always been of opinion that the spread of education 
in India will produce a greater efficiency in all branches of 
administration by enabling you to obtain the services of intelli- 
gent and trustworthy persons in every department of Goverment; 
and on the other hand, we believe that the numerous vacancies 
of different kinds which have constantly to be filled up, may 
afford a great stimulus to education. . . . 

What we desire is that, where the other qualifications of the 
candidates for appointments under Government are equal, a 

person who has received a good education, irrespective of the 
place or manner in which it may have been acquired, should 
be preferred to one who has not; and that even in lower 
situations, a man who can read and write be preferred to one 
who cannot if he is equally eligible in other respects. 

But, however large the number of appointments under 
Government may be, the views of the natives of India should 
be directed to the far wider and more important sphere of 
usefulness and advantage which a liberal education lays open 
to them; and such practical benefits arising from improved 
knowledge should be constantly impressed upon them by tho^e 
who know their feelings and have influence or authority to 
advise or direct their efforts. 

Education of Women: Finally, the Despatch offers a few 
suggestions regarding some other problems of education. For 
instance, the Despatch points out the necessity of providing 
suitable school books in Indian languages; the importance of 
vocational instruction and to that end, the need of establishing 
vocational colleges and schools of Industry; and the urgency of 
spreading education among women. With regard to the last of 
these, the Despatch observes: 

The importance of female education in India cannot be 
overrated; and we have observed with pleasure the evidence 
which is now afforded of an increased desire on the part of 
many of the natives of India to give a good education to their 
daughters. By this means a far greater proportional impulse 
is imparted to the educational and moral tone of the people 
than by the education of men. We have already observed 
that schools for females are included among those to which 
grants-in-aid may be given; and we cannot refrain from ex- 
pressing our cordial sympathy with the efforts which are being 
made in this direction. Our Governor-General in Council 
has declared, in a communication to the Government of Bengal, 
that the Government ought to give to the native female educa- 
tion in India its frank and cordial support; and in this we 
heartily concur and we especially approve of the bestowal of 
marks of honour upon such native gentlemen as Rao Bahadur 


Magahunbhai Karramchand who donated Rs. 20,000 to the 

foundation of two native female schools in Ahmedabad, as by 
' such means our desire for the extension of female education 

becomes generally known. 

Criticism of the Despatch: Such were the main provisions of this 

document of great historical importance. Its immediate effects 
were the creation of an Education Department in each province 
of British India and the establishment of Universities at Calcutta, 
Madras and Bombay. It gave an impetus to secondary education 
and to some extent, to primary education also. It introduced the 
system of grant-in-aid and led to the establishment of training 
institutions for teachers. The Despatch is the last and the most 
complete of a series of historical documents which includes 
Grant’s Observations. Section 43 of the Charter Act of 1813, 
Minutes of Lord Minto, Lord Moira, Sir Charles Metcalfe, 
Elphinstone, Sir Thomas Munro, Lord Macaulay and Lord Auck- 
land. It forms a fitting close to the second period in the history 
of Indian Education in which the foundations of the present 
education system were laid. It affords us an excellent platform 
from which we can take a retrospective glance at the past and, as 
the late M. R. Paranjpe observed, it enables us “to find out how 
far we have achieved the educational objectives which the authors 
of the Despatch had in view, and to note the changes brought 
about in our educational objectives in the last hundred years, 
partly by mere lapse of time and partly by the new environment 
created by the educational progress in the period”. 1 

It is a matter for regret that some of the most important recom- 
mendations of the Despatch were not carried out for a long time; 
some were given effect to in a mutilated form; while some more 
have yet to be acted upon. The encouragement of Indian 
languages which it promised remained a pious wish for a long 
time to come and the languages spoken and understood by the 
masses continued to languish. The desire of the Despatch- to 
evolve a policy of grant-in-aid which would enable Government 
completely to withdraw from the field of educational activities was 
more observed in breach than in fulfilment. As the late M. R. 
Paranjpe observes: 

1 Progress of Education, Poona, July 1941, p. 52. 

non-official enterprise in EDUCATION 145 

For over sixty years, however. Government institutions gradu- 
ally increased in number and private epterprise was often 
jjgJjouraged rather than encouraged. During the first thirty 
years, ie. f up to 1880, Christian missions were the only private 
agency in the field and Government did not have the courage 
to entrust the work of education to Christian missions whose 
primary aim was to secure converts to Christianity. The 
incidents of 1857 had demonstrated to Government the risk it 
ran in creating suspicion in people’s mind regarding Govern- 
ment’s attitude towards the religions of the people of India, 
and the Christian missions did not get the full measure of 
Government support although they continued to be the most 
favoured non-Govemment agency in the field of education. 1 

With the spread of education and new ideals of social service, 
Indian private enterprise began and multiplied. But Government 
was not prepared to hand over its schools and colleges to Indian 
management either, because it did not believe in the capacity of 
Indians to conduct them efficiently. 

To plans of mass education visualised by the Despatch were 
not realised, nor were High Schools imparting education through 
the medium of the mother-tongue established for more than seven 
decades. It may be pointed out that it is to these, and other 
omissions to give full effect to the provisions of the Despatch, 
that the origin- of many of the defects of the present educational 
system can be traced. 

It is also interesting to note how some of the sentiments express- 
ed in the Despatch have grown obsolete. For instance, the 
Despatch speaks of education “suited to every station in life”. 
This is quite intelligible as an ideal of the early ^Victorian era 
when people believed in a “beautiful social order Providentially 
arranged” in which each person had a definite status according 
to birth or environment. But the idea jars upon a modern 
thinker who believes in equality of educational opportunity for 
all. Similarly, one is pained to find that the Despatch can only 
think of the India to come as the supplier of raw materials for 
British industries and as the consumer of the finished products 
of England. This is a position which hardly any self-respecting 
l Ibid p. 47 . 



Indian would accept, either from the economic or educational 
point of view. 

In pointing out these facts, let us not be misunderstood as 
belittling the work done or contemplated by the framers of the 
Despatch. We cannot, however, find any justification for the 
superlative terms in which some historians have described the 
Despatch and even called it “The Magna Charta of Indian 
Education”. In our opinion, such a view betrays a lack of 
proportion. The Despatch, no doubt, did a lot towards the 
evolution of a good system of education in India according to 
the educational ideals then prevalent. But these ideals have 
changed so materially since then that it would help India very 
little to be now guided by the sentiments of the Despatch. As 
for callmg it a Charter, one cannot do better than to quote the 
late M.R. Paranjpe who observes: 


But in spite of all these good features it would be incorrect 
to describe the Educational Despatch of 1854 as an Educational 
Charter, i.e., an official paper bestowing or guaranteeing cer- 
tain rights and privileges. The Despatch does not ever refew 
to the ideal of universal literacy although it expects education 
to spread over a wider field through the grants-imaid system; 
it does not recognize the obligation of the State to educate 
every child below a certain age; it does not declare that poverty 
shall be no bar to the education of deserving students; and 
while it may be admitted that employment in Government 
offices was not the object of English education as visualised in^ 
the Despatch, the authors did not aim at education for 
leadership, education for the industrial regeneration of India, 
education fot the defence of the motherland, in short, educa- 
tion required by the people of a self-government nation. It 
was perhaps pardonable that the authors of the Despatch 
could not visualise the progress of Indian aspirations after a 
century — but that is admitting indirectly the imperfections of 
the Despatch. Whatever were its values in 1854, it would be 
ridiculous to describe the Despatch as an Educational Charter, 
in the year 1941. 1 

1 Progress of Education, Poona, July 1941, pp. 51-2. 

Chapter Five 

The Victorian Era (I) 


The Despatch of 1854, was at first looked upon as the begin- 
ning of a great era of educational reforms under the East India 
Company. But, as events actually turned out, it proved to be 
its swan song. The Departments of Public Instruction were 
constituted in 1855-56 and the Universities were incorporated in 
1857. But before any further action could be taken on the ter m. 
of the Despatch, the Company cea sed to be a poli tical pow er . in 

18 58 and the Goveratgent of Iadja„,m the 

Crown . Broadly speaking, therefore, education in India under 
t he East Indi a Company may be taken to have ended with the 
Despatch of 1854 itself. 

General Features of the Period from 1854 to 1902: The Despatch 
of 1854, as pointed out in the last chapter, took stock of the 
past and laid down long-range policies for future guidance. The 
directions of the Despatch continued to be followed in broad 
outline until the opening of the twentieth century when Lord 
Curzon started another new era in Indian education. The period 
of about five decades between the Despatch of 1854 and the 
appointment of the Indian Universities Commission by Lord 
Curzon in 1902 may, therefore, be described as the third period 
in modern education in India or, briefly, the Victorian Era in 
Indian Education. 

As compared with India under the Company, this Victorian 
Era was a period of peace and tranquillity. Between 1813 and 
1853, the main tasks of the British administrators were conquest 
and consolidation. It was, therefore, a period of almort con- 
tinuous warfare. Anarchy and general unrest prevailed in several 
parts of India and law and order was restored only when these 
parts were conquered and brought directly under the British rule 




or indirectly under British influence through a treaty with their 
rulers. By 1854, however, the whole of India had been either 
conquered by the Company or brought under its influence and 
law and order were restored everywhere. But for the events 
of 1857, no furthur wars were fought on the Indian soil during 
the period under review 1 and a background of peace and social 
security which is so essential a prerequisite of educational progress 
was maintained throughout. 

The second feature of this period which distinguishes it from 
the eariler one is the grateful attitude of the Indian people 
towards their British conquerors. Prior to 1854, the Indian 
people and the Britishers had never come together close enough 
to understand each other. The Indian attitude towards the 
British varied from place to place, from time to time, and from 
one individual or social class to another. It was sometimes that 
of hostility, sometimes of awe, but most often of suspicion and 
distrust. There was a general unwillingness (except on the part 
of a few persons of the upper classes) to study the language of 
the conquerors, to understand their culture, and generally to 
come into closer relations with them. After 1902, there was 
again a parting of the ways because the national sentiment had 
been reawakened and the Indian people had begun their war 
against their British rulers. But between 1854 and 1902, we 
generally find the most harmonious relations existing between the 
rulers and the ruled. The Indian people were sick of the anarchy 
that had followed the disruption of the Mughal Empire and, more 
than anything else, needed a strong government that would 
maintain law and order. As the British rule supplied this prime 
and urgent need, all its inconveniences and shortcomings were 
forgotten and the people blessed the British conquest of India and 
hailed it as their good fortune. There was also a general feeling 
that the British connection with India should continue indefinitely 
and that it would ultimately lead to great progress and happiness 
of the Indian people. The earlier attitude of distrust and 
suspicion, therefore, gradually disappeared and an admiration of 
Western culture and science in general and English literature and 
history in particular began to gain ground instead. This 

1 The Afghan and Burma Wars, although fought in this period, were small 
affairs on the whole and they did not at all affect the mainland of India. 

combined feeling of gratitude, loyalty and admiration was quite 
satisfying t0 Englishmen as well because it mads them feel that 
they were serving some divine and altruistic jjurpose in conquering 
end administering India. There were, of course, a few significant 
exceptions to this general picture. Some sections of the Indians 
had never really reconciled themselves to British rule; others had 
the vision to see the deficiencies of foreign rule and to ask for 
self-government, although at some distant date. The Indian 
National Congress had already been established in 1885 and 
several nationalist leaders, like Dadabhai Naoroji, were already 
criticising the un-British character of the Indian administration. 
But these early signs of the coming storms were a minor pheno- 
menon and it would be generally correct to say that, during this 
period, the attitude of the Indian people towards British rule was 
broadly one of loyalty, gratitude and admiration, as compared to 
that of fear, distrust or suspicion between 1813 and 1853 and of 
open hostility after 1902. 

The third distinctive feature of this period is that the centre of 
interest in education now shifted from London to Calcutta. Prior 
to 1854, most educational questions had to be referred Home for 
the orders of the Court of Directors. A reference to the historical 
events narrated in Chapters II to IV will show that (a) every 
important question was decided, before 1854, by a Despatch from 
the Directors in London, and ( b ) that Parliament showed very 
keen interest in Indian education, particularly when the Charters 
of the Company were renewed in 1698, 1793, 1813, 1833, and 1853. 
This Parliamentary interest in Indian affairs in general, and in 
Indian education in particular, was reduced to the lowest level as 
soon as the governance of India was transferred to the Crown. It 
is true that the Secretary of State for India — the new officer who 
took the place of the Court of Directors as well as the President 
of the Board of Control — wrote the Educational Despatch of 
1859 and supervised Indian education in a general manner just 
as he supervised all other departments of the Indian administra- 
tion. But his control was very broad and general and, therefore, 
the most effective authority in Indian education after 1858 was 
the Government of India, rather than any authority at Home. 

Between 1854 and 1902, we find a good deal of evidence to 
show that the Central Government took a very keen and 




continuous interest in education. For instance, the Despatch of 
1854 was followed, in 1855, by the appointment of a Central 
Committee to plan the universities; in 1857, the Indian Uni- 
versities were established by Acts of the Central Executive 
Council. From 1865-66 to 1870-71, the Government of India 
held, through special officers, detailed surveys of education in 
India. In 1882, the Indian Education Coaimission was appointed 
by the orders of the Central Government. In 1886-87, 1891-92, 
1896-97 and 1901-2 appeared four quinquennial reviews held by 
the Government of India regarding the progress of education. 
Moreover, the Government of India also passed hundreds of 
resolutions on educational matters during this period because 
its sanction was necessary to every important decision or change 
of policy. This general trend will be illustrated by several 
examples narrated in the course of the next three chapters; but 
it would be enough to state here that the years between 1854 
and 1902 witnessed an almost complete loss of interest in Indian 
education on the part of the British Parliament, its place being 
taken by the keen and intensive interest which the Government 
of India now began to take in educational matters. 

Fourthly, this period was one of general financial stringency 
— a feature in which it resembled the earlier period between 1813 
and 1853. The reasons for the stringency were, however, differ- 
ent. Prior to 1853, the financial stringency of the Company was 
mainly due to the heavy military expenditure which had to be 
incurred on the conquest of India, and to the general unsettled 
condition of the country, not to speak of the very natural desire 
of the Directors of the East India Company not to allow their 
dividends to get smaller. Between 1854 and 1902. however, the 
only wars were the events of 1857, and the Afghan and Burma 
wars whose financial implications were not so heavy and law and 
order was maintained everywhere. The revenues of Government, 
therefore, expanded considerably during this period; and yet, 
adequate finances for education could never be found and 
Government was almost always complaining of the shor- 
tage of funds. The explanation of this paradox lies in 
a number of factors among which the following may be 

(a) Between 1854 and 1902, the financial admifli stra ^ on m 


India was extremely defective. Cot&equently, education could 
not secure liberal and ever-increasing grants. 

(&) Between 1854 and 1870, the budget of the Central Govern- 
ment had, more often than not, a deficit, and after 1870 also, the 
situation did not improve because of Afghan and Burma wars 
and the famines and the plague which affected most parts of 
India. These political situations and natural calamities worsened 
the financial position of the Central Government and restricted 
the funds available for education. 

(c) British administration failed to develop the potential 
industrial resources of the country because its objective, as 
frankly started by the Despatch of 1854, was to develop India 
as a supplier of raw materials to England and the buyer of her 
finished goods. This lack of industrial development naturally led 
to a very great contraction of the wealth available for taxation. 

{d) The policy of the Government in taxation was not very 
progressive. The poor were heavily taxed through taxes like land- 
revenue, local fund cess on land-revenue, the salt-tax, etc. But 
the rich did not pay their share to a liice extent — a factor that 
again led to the diminution of national public income and result- 
ed in contracting expenditure on education and such other utility 

A detailed financial history of this period is beyond the scope 
of this book; but what has been stated above is enough to show 
that the financial stringency of this period was only partly due 
to wars and mainly to a defective system of financial administra- 
tion, failure to develop the wealth of the country, natural cala- 
mities like plague and famine, and a regressive and unsatisfactory 
taxation policy. But whatever the reasons may be, their inevit- 
able result was to contract materially the funds available for 
education and to hamper its progress. 

True, the shortage of Government funds for education was 
sought to be made good in this period, by securing additional 
funds from (i) the levy of local fund cesses in rural areas, 
(iij contribution of municipalities in urban areas, (iii) fees, and 
(iv) donations from the public. A detailed account of these develop- 
ments will be given, in the relevant context, in the following 
chapters. It may be admitted here, however, that these sources 
of revenue did make up, to some extent, for the inadequacy of 





Government grants — particularly in the field of secondary and 
collegiate education. But they were still very meagre and could 
hardly atone in full for the extreme inadequacy of the Govern- 
ment grant for education. In spite of these new resources, 
therefore, financial stringency continued to dominate the educa- 
tional scene and hold up progress at every point, but most of all 
in mass education. 

Finally, this period differed from the earlier one in its com- 
parative freedom from controversies, and its greater record 
of achievements. As shown in Chapters II to IV, the period 
from 1813 to 1853 was mainly one of violent controversies and 
experiments and its achievements in terms of institutions started 
or pupils educated were inconsiderable. This aspect changed 
materially after 1854. The Despatch of 1854 laid down educa- 
tional policies in such details that several controversies were 
effectively sealed up and the ground for a rapid advance in educa- 
tion was prepared automatically. It is, of course, true that even 
this period is not altogether free .from controversies— some of 
which were carried over from the preceding period and others 
were newly raised. This, in a way, is inevitable, because every 
age in education has its own problems and raises its own con- 
troversies. But nevertheless, the period between 1854 and 1902 
may be said to be more a period of achievements than of con- 
troversies. It witnessed the establishment of five Universities 
in India— at Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Allahabad and Lahore; 
it brought into existence an Education Department in each Pro- 
vince which, by 1902, had established a fairly detailed and 
satisfactory system of the supervision of private educational 
enterprise and, in addition, conducted a large number of educa- 
tional institutions under its direct control; it saw a very rapid 
expansion of collegiate and secondary education and a tremendous 
increase of private Indian enterprise in this field; it started the 
collection of special taxes for education and saw a large increase 
in primary schools of the modern type; it witnessed significant 
developments in vocational education and in the education of 
such erstwhile backward groups as Muslims, Harijans, aboriginals 
and women. These advances, which by no means exhaust the 
whole list, indicate that this was a period of steady educational 
development in which controversies played but a minor role. 

In fact, had it not been for the financial stringency that was so 
conspicuous a feature of the situation, the achievements of this 
period might have been greater still. 

Main Documents of the Period: From this survey of the broad 
general features of the period, we shall now turn to a study of 
the important documents which surveyed or influenced its events 
and policies. 

The Despatch of 1854 whose provisions were analysed in 
detail in the preceding chapter, forms not only the starting, but 
the dominating point for the period as a whole. Right up to the 
time of Lord Curzon, we find the Despatch of 1854 being con- 
tinuously quoted or referred to in all educational controversies 
for the authoritative decision of principles of policies. The mere 
fact that a certain policy was recommended by the Despatch of 
1854 was assumed at this time as perfectly good evidence of its 
validity, and the most rigorous proof was demanded for every 
variation proposed. This does not mean that all the injunctions 
of the Despatch were carried out. As shown earlier in Chapter 
IV, several important directives of the Despatch were observed 
more in breach than in fulfilment. All the same, it may be said 
that, between 1854 and 1902, the educational policy in India was 
chiefly dictated by the Despatch of 1854. 

The next document is a Despatch , dated 28th April, 1858, from 
Lord Ellenborough, the President of the Board of Control. It was 
written shortly after the “Mutiny” and is a panicky document 
which tried to reverse the policies laid down by the Despatch 
of 1854 on the ground that they had led to the events of 1857. 
Fortunately, a better sense of reality soon dawned and its recom- 
mendations were never acted upon. 

In 1859 came the third important document of this period 
—Lord Stanley's Despatch of 1859. The occasion for the Despatch 
was the transfer of the governance of India from the Company 
to the Crown (1858). Such a major change of administration 
required that the new authorities should review the existing 
policies in education and either confirm or amend them as early 
as possible. Such a review had become all the more urgent since 
the Despatch of Lord Ellenborough had raised doubts regarding 
several important policies enunciated in the Despatch of 1854, 




viz., necessity of direct official attempts for mass edcuation, 
encouragement of the education of women, grants-inaid to 
mission schools, etc., and recommended that the Downward 
Filtration Theory be continued that the education of women 
be not interfered with and that no assistance be given to mission 
schools. Lord Stanley, the first Secretary of State for India, 
reviewed the whole position, confirmed all the directives of the 
Despatch of 1854 (except in so far as primary education is 
concerned) and put an end to the storm raised by Lord 
Ellenbo rough. 

Fourteen years later, in 1813, came the next important 
document of this period — the Report of the Indian Education 
Commission . The appointment of this Commission was neces- 
sitated by two reasons: the first was the desire of the Government 
of India to review in a comprehensive manner the development 
of education in India since the Despatch of 1854. In the earlier 
period, the Charter of the Company came for renewal every 20 
years and provided an occasion for an exhaustive review of 
education. With the abolition of the Company, that opportunity 
was lost; but it was felt that the old practice of periodical reviews 
was healthy and useful and, in 1882, the Indian Education Com- 
mission was appointed for the purpose. The second reason for 
the appointment of the Commission was the agitation conducted 
by the missionaries, particularly in England, to the effect that the 
educational system of India was not carried on in accordance 
with the Despatch of 1854. This agitation necessitated an enquiry 
and the Commission of 1882-83 served the purpose. 

As stated before the Central Government held comprehensive 
quinquennial reviews of education in India in 1886-87, 1891-92, 
1892-97 and 1901-2. These are very useful documents, com- 
prehensive, reliable and detailed. But they did not try to for- 
mulate the influence policies. 

It will be seen from the foregoing account that the educational 
policies between 1854 and 1902 were formulated by two main 
documents only— the Despatch of 1854 and the Report of the 
Indian Education Commission, 1882-83— which are complemen- 
tary to each other. The first of these is already studied in 
Chapter IV. The principal recommendations of the second will 
be enumerated and discussed in the course of this and the next 

chapters at the appropriate places. 


Main Events of jhe Period 1854 to 1902; The principal educa- 
tional events of the period between 1854 and 1902 were the 

(а) Organisation of the Education Department; 

(б) Indianisation of the agency to spread education among 
the people; 

(c) Development of the system of grant-in-aid; 

(d) Establishment of the Universities and substantial extension 
of collegiate and secondary education; 

(e) Westernisation 'of the content of education and its results; 

(/) Neglect of indigenous schools leading to their almost 

complete disappearance by 1902; the creation of a new 
system of primary schools instead, supported partly by 
local rates and fees and partly by Government grants; and 

(g) Development of education among women, Muslims, 
Harijans, and the aboriginals, and the development of 
modern education in Indian States. 

The first three of these topics will be dealt with in this chapter 
and the remaining in Chapter VI. 

The Organisation of the Education Department (1854-1902): In 
accordance with the orders of the Despatch of 1854 steps were 
soon taken to form an Education Department in every Province 
of India as it then existed and, by 1856, the new system was fairly 
at work. Owing to increase in territories or administrative re- 
organisation, new provinces were created in India from time to 
time. After 1854, however, it became a rule to create a new 
Education Department as so ( on as a new Province was created. 
The functions of these newly-created Provincial Departments of 
Education were the following: 

(a) to advise the Provincial Government on all educational 

(b) to administer the funds allocated to education by the 
Provincial and Central Governments; 





(c) to conduct certain educational institutions directly under 
the authority of Government; 

0 d ) to supervise and inspect the working of private educational 
institutions which applied to the Departments for grants- 
in-aid or recognition; 

(e) to compile annual reports on the progress of education 
within their jurisdiction along with the necessary statistics 
and to publish them; and 

(/) generally to take all such steps as were necessary to 
improve and expand education. 

Between 1854 and 1896, the salient features of the organi- 
sation of the Provincial Education Departments were the 

(a) All the superior posts were held by Europeans, in spite 
of the fact that a demand for Indianisation was conti- 
nually being put forward (especially after 1885 when the 
Indian National Congress was founded); 

{b) The emoluments offered and conditions of service were 
not generally very attractive so that competent scholars 
from England did not ordinarily think of joining the 
Education Departments in India; 

(c) The staff of the Department was always found to be in- 
adequate because financial stringency prevented Govern- 
ment from expanding the Department in proportion to 
the increase in schools and pupils; and 

(d) Consequently, the control and supervision of the Depart- 
ment over private schools was not as strict or as thorough 
as might have been wished. 

A noteworthy event of these years was the creation of the 
Indian Educational Service in 1896. This was an All-India 
Service and was recruited in England by the Secretary of State 
for India and was given a handsome scale of pay. Consequently, 
most of the posts in the Service were held by Englishmen although 
it was theoretically open to Indians to go to England and seek 
entrance to it in open competition. Its avowed purpose was to 
attract capable persons from England to work in India. It did 

not succeed in this aim and, if anything, the officials that went 
before 1896 were much superior to those that came in afterwards; 
but unhappily enough, it gave Englishmen a monopoly of most 
of the higher posts in the Department — a feature that came in 
for a good deal of well-deserved criticism at the hands of the 
Indian people. 

Agencies to Spread Education among the Indian People: The 
different agencies that were engaged, during this period, in the 
task of spreading education among the Indian people are 
(a) Missionary educational enterprise; (b) Educational enterprise 
by officials in their individual capacity; ( c ) Educational enterprise 
by Indians on modern lines; (d) Educational institutions conduct- 
ed by the Education Department; and ( e ) Indigenous educational 

Of these, the educational enterprise of the officials, conducted 
in their individual capacity, disappeard completely during this 
period. On the transfer of the government to the Crown, the 
rules for the conduct and discipline of Government servants 
which naturally became more strict and began to be more 
rigorously enforced, did not generally leave much scope for 
pioneer work in individual capacity. Moreover, the need for this 
type of work also disappeared in course of time. Its main pur- 
pose, as stated already, was to bring forth Indian private enter- 
prise and to initiate it in the art of conducting educational 
institutions on modern lines. By 1902, Indians had fully assimila- 
ted this technique and, as will be seen later, were dominating the 
whole field of private educational enterprise. Official guidance in 
this matter was no longer needed now, although it had served a 
useful purpose prior to 1 854, and hence there is hardly any need 
to regret its exit. 

Another activity which disappeared during this period almost 
completely was the vast network of indigenous educational 
institutions. In spite of the directives of the Despatch of 1854 
and the recommendations of the Indian Education Commission, 
the indigenous schools were generally neglected, and by 1902, 
they disappeared almost completely from the scene. The de- 
tailed history of this unhappy development wiU be given in' 
Chapter VI; and it would be quite enough to state here that the 




only educational system that survived and progressed during the 
period under review was the new system of education whose 
ideal was to spread Western knowledge and science through the 
medium of English. In this branch of educational activity, the 
missionaries reigned supreme in 1 854, Government efforts came 
next, and private Indian enterprise occupied the lowest place. 
But in the next five decades, a great revolution came about. The 
missionary efforts thrived for a time; but their expansion was 
soon restricted on account of the non-fulfilment of the great hope 
of proselytization which was expected to result from English 
schools, the lack of sufficient encouragement at the hands of 
Government, and the unwillingness of many missionary bodies to 
conduct educational activities for non-Christian children; the 
direct efforts of Government were also limited by financial and 
administrative considerations; and it was Indians alone who 
availed themselves most of the system of grant-in-aid, especially 
after the report of the Indian Education Commission of 1882. 
Private Indian enterprise, therefore, occupied the first and the 
most important place in almost all branches of educational 
activity even as early as 1902. This great revolution in modern 
education is one of the most important achievements of this 
period and its history can be conveniently studied under three 
heads, viz., (a) Missionary educational enterprise; (b) Official 
enterprise in education; and (c) Private Indian enterprise. 

Missionary Educations! Enterprise (1854-1882): The Despatch 

of 1854 had aroused hopes of a great era of expansion in which 
Government would eventually withdraw from direct educational 
enterprise and the missionary schools, supported by liberal grant- 
in-aid, would cover the whole country. But a sad disillusionment 
followed within a few years. The events of 1857 led to an 
agitation in England that missionary activities should not be 
encouraged and that a policy of strict religious neutrality should 
be adopted in India. The missionaries, on their part, .made 
great attempts to push forward their claims. But political 
considerations prevailed and the missionaries lost the battle. The 
Queen’s Proclamation of 1858 adopted a policy of strict neutrality 
in religious matters and gave an assurance to the people that 
Government had neither the right nor the desire to impose 


Christianity upon India. 

Between 1858 and 1882, therefore, the policy of the Department 
was marked by an unsympathetic attitude to mission schools and 
the officials of those days — many of whom were agnostics or 
lacking in missionary zeal — made it difficult for the missions to 
work either within the system or without it. For instance, here 
are some of the difficulties which missionaries experienced while 
working within the official system: 

We cannot, however, pass over the fact that there were great 
disadvantages bound up with the new school system. Whereas 
in the first few years the Government preferred to appoint mis- 
sionaries as inspectors of schools, yet later on, and especially after 
the great Mutiny of 1857, it turned its back almost entirely upon 
them, no doubt out of exaggerated religious neutrality, and 
chose with predilection Englishmen indifferent to religion or 
non-Christian Brahmans for these positions. As the yearly 
grants— the hinge on which the new system turned— depended 
on the result of the annual visitations and examinations con- 
ducted by these gentlemen, it came about that mission schools, 
for instance, were often in a state of very undesirable depen- 
dence on the goodwill or the good temper of officials who were 
antagonistic to missions. How much caprice and party spirit 
it was possible to exercise in the conducting of examinations, 
the inspection of school buildings, and the criticism of the 
school staff! How much vexation and worry were thereby set 
in motion! . . . It was also a direct consequence of the uni- 
formity aimed at by Government— a consequence that also 
worked remarkably for the convenience of the inspectors! — that 
the text-books recommended by those in authority were intro- 
duced practically everywhere; these text-books were for the 
most part neutral as to religion even, if not directly antagonistic 
to Christianity, and their introduction simply meant that the 
books compiled at great pains by the missionaries were crowded 
out of existence. 1 

Similarly, the Department often followed a policy of direct 
competition which made it impossible for the missionaries to 
1 Richter: A History of Missions in India , p. 308. 



work independently of the official educational system. Richter 
narrates the following interesting account of one of such 

They (/.«., missionary schools) now found in the rapidly 
developing educational schemes of the Government an all- 
powerful rival. What position should they take up with regard 
to it? The mission school has of necessity two main objects 
which the Government neither can nor will include in its pro- 
gramme— the dissemination of a fundamental knowledge of 
Christian teaching, and the training of a body of native 
assistants It seemed to be the best solution of the difficulty 
for the two to pursue their schemes amicably but separately, 
and for the missionaries to endeavour to render their school 
system indepedent and up-to-date. The Basel Missionary 
Society after a short-lived enthusiasm for the new Government 
scheme, which was shared at that time by nearly all the Societies, 
was the first to take action along these lines. In 1860, it severed 
its connection with the Government system, and reorganised 
its schools along its own lines. The results were overwhelming. 
On entering upon this new policy the Basel Society had hoped 
perhaps in too sanguine a fashion, to gain possession of the 
whole school system in the provinces where it laboured. But 
instead of this the Government wrested from them the direction 
of all things educational, even in the midst of their main spheres 
of activity, Kanara and Malabar. First of all, the English 
school at Cannanore had to be given up because the Govern- 
ment had erected a similar one in the same place (1861). Then 
at the English school in Kanara there were not enough mis- 
sionaries who, in addition to the ordinary school subjects, were 
sufficiently masters of English language and literature to satisfy 
the demands of the Government for a provincial school of this 
type. The English school at Calicut was simply crushed out 
of existence, owing to an elaborate school plan set down by 
the Government in the immediate neighbourhood. In the 
native schools such thorough-going reforms were insisted upon 
that, of 1450 scholars in 1862, only 648 remained in ' 1866. In 
1867 the missionaries sent an urgent request to the Missionary 
Committee asking for reunion with the Government educational 


system, and the Committee complied, though with heavy 
hearts, in order that the missionaries might not be driven to 
the wall, and robbed of all influence upon the rising generation. 
Thus an educational scheme apart from that of the Govern- 
ment proved an impossibility; against such rivalry it was 
unable to hold its own. 1 . 

It was these difficulties that made the missionaries start an 
agitation, both in England and in India, to the effect that the 
educational administration of India was not carried on in accor- 
dance with the Despatch of 1854 which had recommended the 
closure or transfer of Government schools, that the officials were 
competing with missionary enterprise to such an extent that the 
latter was threatened with extinction, and that the secular educa- 
tional institutions of Government were Godless and irreligious. It 
was this agitation that led to the appointment of the Indian 
Education Commission in 1882, and it was called upon to decide 
the following specific issues in this connection: 

(c) Should Government withdraw from direct educational 
enterprise in favour of missionaries, as the Despatch of 1854 had 
led some of them to hope? 

(b) What should be the policy of Government in religious 
education? Should it be imparted in schools or not? If it was 
to be imparted, in what form and subject to what conditions was 
it to be allowed? 

Each of these issues figured prominently in the deliberations 
of the Commission and taken all in all, the missionaries lost the 
war although they did win a battle or two. 

The Position of Missionary Enterprise in Indian Education: On 
the first of these issues, the opinion of the Commission went 
against the missionaries. On a careful consideration of the pro- 
blem, the Commission came to the conclusion that missionary edu- 
cational enterprise can only occupy a secondary place in Indian 
education and that Government should not withdraw in favour 
of missionary managements. It said: 

The question how far the withdrawal of the State from the 
direct provision of means of higher education would throw 
Richter: op. cit pp. 312-13. 





such education into the hands of missionary bodies, held the 
foremost place in all the evidence bearing on the topic of with- 
drawal. Prominent officers of the Department and many 
native gentlemen argued strongly against any withdrawal, on 
the ground that it must practically hand over higher education 
to missionaries. As a rule the missionary witnesses themselves, 
while generally advocating the policy of withdrawal, expressed 
quite the contrary opinion, stating that they neither exepcted 
nor desired that any power over education given up by the 
Department should pass into their hands. In a country with 
such varied needs as India, we should deprecate any measure 
which would throw excessive influence over higher education 
into the hands of any single agency; and particularly into the 
hands of an agency which, however benevolent and earnest, 
cannot on all points be in sympathy with the mass of the 
community. ... At the same time we think it well to put on 1 
record our unanimous opinion that withdrawal of direct depart- 
mental agency should not take place in favour of missionary 
bodies and that departmental institutions of the higher order 
should not be transferred to missionary management. ... In the 
point of view in which we are at present considering the 
question, missionary institutions hold an intermediate position 
between those managed by the Department and those managed 
by the people for themselves. On the one hand, they are the 
outcome of private effort, but on the other they are not strictly 
local; nor will encouragement to them directly foster those 
habits of self-reliance and combination for purposes of public 
utility which it is one of the objects of the grant-in-aid system 
to develop. Missionary institutions may serve the great purpose 
of showing what private effort can| accomplish, and thus 
of inducing other agencies to come forward. They should be 
allowed to follow their own independent course under the 
general supervision of the State; and so long as there are room 
and need for every variety of agency in the field of education, 
they should receive all the encouragement and aid that private 
effort can legitimately claim. But it must not be forgotten that 
the private effort which it is mainly intended to evoke is that 
of the people themselves. Natives of India must constitute the 
most important of all agencies if educational means are ever to 

be co-extensive with educational wants. Other agencies may 
hold a prominent place for a time, and may always find some 
place in a system in which great variety is on every ground 
desirable. But the higher education of the country will not 
be on a basis that can be regarded as permanent or safe, nor 
will it receive the wide extension that is needed, until the larger 
part of it at all events is provided and managed by the 
people of the country for themselves. 1 

This recommendation is of very great importance because it 
decided, once for all, that missionary activities can only have 
a subordinate place in a national system of education in India. It 
was in this recommendation that the missionaries “caught a 
tartar” as the late M. R. Paranjpe put it. The Despatch of 1854 
had led the missionaries to believe that they would ultimately 
provide for all the educational needs of the country. These 
hopes were shattered completely by the above recommendation of 
the Indian Education Commission which soon became the official 
policy in the matter. 

Religious Education Allied to this problem of Government 
withdrawal from direct educational enterprise was the problem of 
religious education, so dear to the heart of the missionaries. They 
had always put forward the view (a) that the Company’s policy 
of religious neutrality was not in the spiritual interests of the 
Indian people; (£) that, as all true education is inseparable from 
religion, every school and college conducted by the Company 
must impart instruction in religion (which, however, they inter- 
preted narrowly as instruction in Christianity); and (c) that the 
missionaries should have full freedom, in spite of their being in 
receipt of State grants, to teach the Bible compulsorily to all 
students who may join their schools. 

In so far as the general demand for religious education was 
concerned, the ranks of the missionaries were soon strengthened 
by other groups. The Brahmo Samajists, the Prarthana £ama- 
jists and the Arya Samajists, the new sects among the Hindus, 
also demanded religious education in schools on the lines of their 

1 Report , pp. 452-4. 

164 A students’ history of EDUCATION IN INDIA 

own faith; the orthodox Hindus who, in the earlier period, had 
fought against the new education altogether now gave up that fight 
and began to demand that the new schools should combine instruc- 
tion in the principles of Hindu religion with Western science and 
literature, in the case of all Hindu children; and the Muslims who 
were now coming under the modern system of education insisted 
that the Koran should necessarily be taught to Muslim children. 
In short, there was, by 1882, a general feeling among several sec- 
tions of the people that the policy of secular education should be 
abandoned and that religious education should be provided to 
each child in the principles of his own faith. Such a proposal 
could not obviously be accepted by the Commission on administra- 
tive and financial grounds. The Commision, therefore, reiterated 
the necessity of keeping all Government schools secular. The 
missionaries, therefore, lost their demand that Christianity should 
be taught in all Government schools; even the modified demand 
that each child should be taught his own religion was rejected. 
The policy of secular education in Government schools was upheld 
once more, and in spite of all attacks, continues to hold the field 
even today. 

As a corollary to this decision, the question of religious edu- 
cation in aided schools came up for discussion Here, one line of 
action was to follow the American precedent and declare that no 
institution which imparted religious education should be aided by 
Government. But at this time, America had hardly come into 
the picture and our administrators were generally guided by 
English precedents. It was, therefore, decided (a) that private 
schools should be permitted to impart such instruction as they 
chose; ( b ) that Government should just ignore such religious edu- 
cation; and (c) that it should pay grants-in-aid on the basis of 
the secular education imparted in them. This view had already 
been propounded by the Despatch of 1854 and the Commission, 
in deference chiefly to missionary opinion, reiterated it with almost 
equal firmness. 

This decision satisfied the missionaries; but Indian public opin- 
ion in general was opposed to this concession to mission enterprise. 
It was pointed out that, in England, where the freedom to impart 
religious education of its choice was given to an aided school, the 
parents also were given a defence in the conscience-clause which 


enabled them to withdraw their children, if they so desired, from 
the religious education to which they objected. The view that 
such a conscience-clause should be adopted in India was, therefore, 
strongly put forward before the Indian Education Commission. 
The plea, however, was not accepted except in one special case, 
viz , , where the aided school was the only one of its type in the 
locality. In such a case, the Commission recommended that “the 
system of grants-in-aid be based as hitherto, in accordance with 
the Despatch of 1854, on an entire abstinence from interference 
with the religious instruction conveyed in the institution assisted: 
provided that when the only institution of any particular grade 
existing in any town or village is an institution in which religious 
instruction forms a part of the ordinary course, it shall be open to 
parents to withdraw their children from attendance at such ins- 
truction without forfeiting any of the benefits of the institution.” 1 

The enquiries held by the Indian Education Commission marked 
the last great occasion when the Government policy in religious 
education was discussed in India. Ever since 1813 when the Com- 
pany accepted responsibility for the education of the Indian people, 
the subject of religious education was almost continuously deba- 
ted upon and no final decision could be reached. The credit of 
having laid down a definite and final policy on the subject, there- 
fore, belongs to the Indian Education Commission. Its rulings 
were perhaps none too happy. They did not satisfy any 
section of public opinion in full ; but they had to be accepted 
as the only practicable solutions of the problem under Indian 

Missionary Educational Enterprise (1882-1902): Taken together, 
the decisions of the Indian Education Commission convinced the 
missions that the aggressive policy of Duff needed a revision. 
They made the missionaries think, take stock of the whole posi- 
tion, and outline a new educational policy to guide their edu- 
cational enterprise in future. This was done during the next 
twenty years and by 1902, the missionaries adopted the policy 
of restricting their educational activities to the maintenance of a 
few educational institutions in as high a state of efficiency as 

1 Report, pp. 448-9. 




possible and abandoned their earlier dreams of commanding the 
whole educational field in India. 

The reasons for the decision were several. In the first place, 
the prominent position which missionary enterprise occupied in 
Indian education at the time of the Despatch ofj 854 was whittled 
down considerably by the recommendations of the Indian Educa- 
tion Commission. Secondly, the missionaries had a further dis- 
appointment when they found that the spread of English educa- 
tion did not lead to considerable proselytization as expected by 
them. Thirdly, a new party arose among the missionaries them- 
selves which held that it was no part of missionary enterprise to 
maintain schools for non-Christian children. This is how a 
missionary describes the view of this party: 

Now whether it is better, from a missionary point of view, to 
limit mission school education to the needs of the native Chris- 
tian community, or to use the large Government grants as a 
lever by which the schools may be so developed as to give mis- 
sionaries a commanding influence over the scholars who pass 
through them? Mark well! The point at issue is not whether 
missions should keep up sufficient schools to meet the needs of 
the native Christian community. That is a matter on which 
there has never been any serious difference of opinion. The 
question is, whether missions should establish elementary and 
secondary schools for the non-Christian youth of India in order 
through them to disseminate Christian knowledge amongst the 
heathen masses of the people. No branch of mission work has 
caused such heated debate as this of schools for heathen 
children. At the decennial Missionary Conferences at Allaha- 
bad in 1872, at Calcutta in 1882, at Bombay in 1892, and at 
the South India Conference at Bangalore in 1879, it invariably 
led to animated and often to elaborate discussion. It was of 
special moment that the great Missionary Secretary of the 
American Board, Rufus Anderson, and his entire Society, and 
along with them the English Baptist Missionary Society, should 
cast their entire weight into the balance against the maintenan- 
ce of an extensive system of schools for heathen children. What 
arguments did these . opponents advance? “School teaching is 
not missionary work.” It is no duty of the home churches at 

their own cost to spread higher education among any people 
whatsoever, save in so far as their immediate raison d'etre , the 
propagation of the gospel, is advanced thereby.” Missions have 
neither a call nor a mandate to teach English literature, history, 
mathematics, or natural science. The preaching of the gospel 
to the heathen and the exercise of pastoral care over the native 
churches is so clearly the head and front of all missionary labour 
that everything must be considered as pure ‘alien stuff* which 
does not directly further this end. Any union between the 
State and Missions can only be the detriment of the latter; it is 
used by the stronger partner, the State, simply as an auxiliary 
to the attainment of its own ends, some of which are alien to 
the objects of missions, and some of which are indeed antago- 
nistic to those objects. The inspection of mission schools by 
heathen inspectors, the introduction of text-books utterly incom- 
patible with the standpoint of missions, the regulations with 
regard to the teaching staff, school buildings, the school inven- 
tory, school hours, etc., place missions at the mercy or the cap- 
rice of their opponents. Besides, the whole thing is like a screw 
with an endless worm; at one time an order will be issued 
making all religious instruction optional, and only to be given 
out of ordinary school hours (Educational Despatch, 1885, in 
the North-Western Provinces, withdrawn after pressure from 
missionary circles); at another, it will be decreed that all the 
subjects that are under Government inspection must be taught 
during the first five hours of every day, whilst religious teaching 
must, if at all, be taken during a sixth hour, when all the streng- 
th and power of attention on the part of the children is exhaust- 
ed (Travahcore, 1902). It is a delusion and a snare, in an 
educational system the whole efforts which are directed towards 
examination drill and towards the acquirement by the scholars 
of a parrot-like facility in chattering English, for missionaries 
to hope accomplish anything of value in imparting Ghristian 
knowledge — a subject that is of no use in the examination. 
The scholars tolerate the period set apart for Christain religious 
teaching, often unwillingly making the best of it as a kind of 
bad bargain because they have a better chance of passing the 
State examinations in a mission school, or because the fees of 
the mission school are lower than those of the competing 





Goverment establishment. But it is unworthy of mission to use 
good teaching in secular subjects for an examination as a decoy 
by which to entice, for purposes of religious instruction, that 
portion of the youth of the country which hungers after know- 
ledge. And the results of mission schools, as regards the 
number of baptisms, bear no sort of comparison with the means 
and strength employed; many mission schools are unable to 
record one case of baptism in an entire decade. And further, 
what could this elite of highly trained missionaries, who alone 
can be employed in educational mission work, in that case 
accomplish along the lines of direct missionary work? Precisely 
the most gifted amongst them are confined to close and stuffy 
school-rooms, and both intellectually and spiritually are be- 
coming atrophied under the mechanical school grind, whilst 
away outside, far across the thickly populated tracts of land, 
millions are dying without having once heard the good tidings 
of great joy! 1 

Of course, a number of strong arguments were also urged on 
the other side. It was admitted that the number of conversions 
through English schools and colleges was extremely small. But 
it was asserted that this comparatively small number of converts 
was “the very crown and rejoicing of Indian missions, the most 
brilliant representatives and pillars of the Indian church, the 
leading spirits in the ever-increasing body of Indian Christians 
. . . the officers of the main army which is composed of members 
belonging to the lower orders of the society.” 2 It was also 
urged that missionaries held an important place in the world of 
Indian education and that they ought not to lose it; that the 
teachings of Christ were spreading largely among the educated 
Indians although only a few of them became the direct adherents 
of the Christian religion; that it was a duty of the missionaries to 
satisfy the growing Indian demand for knowledge; and that the 
mission schools were the only means by which the gospel could be 
preached to the upper and influential classes of society. 

The sum total of all these discussions was the conclusion that 
[ missionaries should rest content with the maintenance of a few 

Richter: op. cit., pp. 313-15 
1 Ibid. t p. 3i5. 

efficient schools and colleges and should refrain, as far as possible, 
from any large-scale expansion of their educational activities. 
This policy was adopted soon after 1882, and the missionaries 
have since directed their efforts to such fields as have not yet 
attracted Indian workers, viz the improvement of Aboriginals, 
Hill Tribes and other backward communities. 

Institutions Directly Conducted by the Education Department 
(1854-82): Similar in effect to this decision of the missionaries 
not to expand their educational activities on any large scale was 
the policy of Government to depend mainly on private enterprise 
to provide for the educational needs of the country— a policy 
that necessarily implied a refusal to multiply the educational 
institutions which were under the direct control of the Education 
Departments. This policy, as pointed out in Chapter IV, was 
clearly enunciated in the Despatch of 1854* which, even at this 
early date, looked forward “to the time when any general system 
of education entirely provided by Government may be disconti- 
nued, with the gradual advance of the system of grant-in-aid, and 
when many of the existing Government institutions, especially 
those of a higher order, may be safely closed, or transferred to 
the management of local bodies under the control of, and aided 
by, the State” (para. 64). The Principal objective of this policy 
which may be briefly described as the Doctrine of State-withdrawal 
was, as already stated, to patronise missionary enterprise— an 
idea whose wisdom came to be largely challenged, especially after 
the events of 1857. Between 1858 and 1882, therefore, the 
officials of the Department did not observe these directions of the 
Despatch of 1854 and brought about a rapid multiplication of 
Government educational institutions. 1 This was due to (a) the 
fear of possible political repercussions of Government encourage- 
ment to missionary enterprise, ( b ) the absence of private Indian 
enterprise on a sufficiently large scale, and (c) the desire of 
officials of the Department, on grounds of efficiency, to conduct 
schools and colleges under their direct supervision. 

The missionaries, in particular, did not like this policy. They 
urged that the Doctrine of State-withdrawal was the only right 

1 Government institutions numbered 15,462 (with 737,176 pupils) in 1881-82 
as against 1,405 (with 62,731 pupils) in 1855. 



policy for Government and that so long as Government was 
maintaining its own institutions, it could never adopt an impartial 
attitude of full encouragement to private institutions. They, 
therefore, started a crusade, both in India and England, demand- 
ing, on the basis of statements made in the Despatch of 1854, 
t at the Government colleges and schools should either be closed 
or transferred to private enterprise. The Indian Education Com- 
mission, therefore, was called upon to decide whether (a) the 
Doctrine of State-withdrawal was educationally sound and (b) if 
so, the manner in which it could be properly implemented. 

The first of these issues proved to be extremely controversial 
and the evidence led before the Commission included a vigorous 
championship of the case for and against State-withdrawal. But 
on a very careful consideration of the problem, the Commission 
recommended that the Doctrine of State-withdrawal enunciated 
by the Despatch of 1 854 was intrinsically sound and specially 
suited to the situation in India. Several weighty reasons prompt- 
ed this decision. In the first place, Government had frankly 
told the Commission that the funds at its disposal were so limited 
that if satisfactory progress was to be made at all, “every availa- 
ble private agency must be called into action to relieve and assist 
the public funds in connection with every branch of public 
Instruction”. A system of grant-in-aid became, therefore, an 
absolute necessity, “if the educational means of the country were 
to be made co-extensive with educational wants”. Secondly, the 
paucity of funds made it necessary to make every pie go the 
longest way and it was urged that, if Government were to transfer 
its institutions (which were necessarily costlier) to private bodies, 
it would effect a considerable saving which might be advantageous- 
ly used for aiding more educational institutions. For these and 
other reasons, the Commission recommended that Government 
should not only curtail the expansion of its institutions, but should 
also withdraw from direct enterprise as soon as a suitable agency, 
public or private, became available to carry on the work. This 
fundamental recommendation raised two further issues: In whose 
favour should the withdrawal take place and what Should be the 
conditions for such a withdrawal? As stated already, the Com- 
mission did not favour State-withdrawal in favour of missionaries. 
But it recommended (a) a complete withdrawal of the State 


in the sphere of primary education in favour of local boards 
and municipalities and (b) a gradual withdrawal in the sphere of 
secondary and collegiate education in favour of private Indian 
enterprise subject to the general safeguard that such a step does 
not endanger the future of the institution or lower the quality of 
instruction given therein or reduce the educational opportunities 
already provided in the area concerned. The first of these re- 
commendations was accepted by Government in toto and almost 
all primary schools were transferred to the control of local bodies 
like municipalities and local boards. But it must be remembered 
that this decision does not really amount to a withdrawal in 
favour of a private agency as visualised by the Despatch of 1854. 
The local bodies are a part of Government and the transfer of 
primary schools to their control was really equivalent to an 
administrative decentralisation and not to a transfer from a 
Government to a non-Government agency. The second recom- 
mendation, however, was not accepted and, even after 1882, the 
Department did not withdraw from direct educational enterprise 
in secondary and collegiate education. This was due partly to 
to the desire of the Department to conduct its own institutions 
and partly to the unnecessary fear that the efficiency of these 
institutions would suffer if they were transferred to private Indian 
enterprise. Between 1854 and 1902 therefore, it may be said 
that the Doctrine of Sate-withdrawal from direct educational 
enterprise remained, on paper, as the official policy of Govern- 
ment but was almost a dead letter in practice. The effects of 
this doctrine on Indian education in general will be discussed 
later in the closing paragraph of this chapter. Here it would 
be enough to state that it succeeded in checking effectively a 
rapid multiplication of educational institutions directly con- 
ducted by the Department. Thi result was, in a way, 
inevitable on account of the general financial stringency that 
prevailed in this period. All that the Doctrine of State- 
withdrawal did, therefore, was to cloak the inability of Govern- 
ment to expand its educational activities as a noble administra- 
tive policy wherein direct State enterprise was deliberately con- 
trolled in order that private enterprise might have “room to 

172 A students’ history OF EDUCATION to IND1A 

Private Inton Entejprise (1854-I902); | t W H1 have been seen 
rom the foregoing discussion that, between 1854 and 1902, both 
he nussionanes and Government decided nor to attempt a Jarge- 
a e expansion of their educational institutions. This restriction 
of mjssionary and governmental enterprise in education opened 
whole field of educational activity to private Indian enterprise 
nd made them almost solely responsible for meeting the rapidly 
growing educational demands of the people. It is to the credit 
of Government that Indian enterprise was given full freedom to 
develop and liberal assistance during the period under review. It 
is also to the credit of educated Indians that they rose to the 
occasion, undertook the work of educating their brethren at con- 
siderable sacrifice and not only met all the growing educational 
demands of the people but also helped to spread the love of 
education still further by their life and tea ching 
In 1854, the modem educational institutions conducted by 
Indians were so few that private enterprise really meant missionary 
enetrprise. But as early as 1 882, the position was considerably 
changed ( and Indians occupied a fairly important position as the 

following statistics for 1881-82 will show: 


by Indian 

Arts Colleges 


Secondary Schools 


Primary Schools 


Professional Colleges and Schools 




by other 

- i i 

N.B. Figures for British India and some Indian States (exclusive of Burma) 

It will be seen that, even in 1882, it was only in the field of 
er education that the missionaries had a lead over Indian 



enterprise. During the next two decades, however, Indian private 
enterprise increased so rapidly that in 1901-2, the colleges under 
Indian management numbered 42 as against 37 under missionary 
management/ and the large bulk of private secondary schools 
came to be controlled by Indians themselves. 

The motiv es that led to this exp ansio n of In dian^ private enter- 
prise wer e mainly patrio tic. By about 1880, there was a wave of 
social ^ religiou s, and political reforms in India — at veritable 
b eginning qf^ a^r gn^issance in, Indian national life. The leaders 
of this m ovement were inspired J>y a faith in the ideal of building 
tip a great natio n in India and tbdlLJulUmatc objects weresocial 
and political. Butjthey real ised thaj_a new nation after their ■ 
hearfs desire co uld not be „bnillj^L unless the education of the 
country’^ you th came to be controlled and ravaged by Indians 
themselves. H ence i t was that a movement for establishing 
schools and colleges star ted ab out this time in all provinces — a 
m ovemenTwEic h finds a b rilliant e x press ion in such institutions as 
the M ahom edan An glo- Oriental College at Aligarh und the 
Deccan Education Society of Poona. 

At first, the efforts of Indians were restricted to the collection 
of funds and even the colleges under Indian management generally 
had European principals. It was necessary to do so because, in 
those days, I ndians wer e not con sidered fit to become, principals 
of colleges or even headmastersof high schools. This prejudice, 
however unfair it may appear today, had some justification in 
those early years; firstly, Indians versed in European Knowledge and 
Science — which was the object of the educational system — were 
not available. Secondly, the idea that English should be taught, 
or can only be taught properly, by one whose mother-tongue is 
English was firmly rooted at this time; and, as the teaching of 
English was the most important part of education, the employ^ 
ment of Europeans, even in schools and colleges under Indian 
management, became inevitable on grounds of efficiency. 

It is hardly necessary to say that Indian private enterprise could 
not have thrived much so long as it was compelled to depend upon 
Eur(^ean_ h^admaste r s and principals who were not inspired. by 
the same ideals as those of the lndians. Secondly, a rapid exten- 
sion of education and the reduction of its cost to a figure which 
was within the means of the average Indian were also impossible 



so long as costly Europeans continued to be entertained. What 
the situation demanded was a sacrifice on the part of educated 
Indians of undoubted ability. To such men, a lucrative post 
under Government was available for the mere asking. But the 

required them “to scorn delights 
a 5^^Y5. J a ^Pji ous days’ ’ > to turn their back on Government 
service aqd voluntarily decid e to live on a pittance^ in private 
* ^jtut ions. demand and it is^a gold en event in 

t he hist ory of Indian education jthat educated J pdians shou ld 
h ^ve J *| seo to the occasion and made the sacrifices demanded. 

p ersons like R. P. Paranjpe — a s emoF wrangler of the 
C am bridge University' — bjegan to work as princip als ~of pri vate 
colleges , t he stamp ^of inferiori ty’^ to In dian 

> vanished at once, t he spread of ed ucation be- 
came rapid, aqd its cost was considerably reduced. 

| Too much tribute cannot be paid to the workers in the cause of 
\ Indian education in the years between 1882 and 1902. It was 
/ these nameless sons of Mother India that satisfied as well as 
created the public demand for more education that grew up at 
this time and thereby laid the foundation of the modern national 
.life in India. 

/ . N 

/ Grant-in-aid: The policy of grant-in-aid to private enterprise is 
J an inevitable corollary of the Doctrine of State-withdrawal and it 
is, therefore, hardly a matter for surprise if a great emphasis on 
grant-in-aid was placed in all the important documents of this 
period. The Despatch of 1854, as shown already, was the first 
document to recommend the adoption of a regular scheme of 
grant-in-aid. This direction was soon carried out by the Educa- 
tion Departments which framed grant-in-aid codes and began to 
inspect and financially assist the private schools that came into 
existence to meet the evergrowing desire for education. It is 
unnecessary here to go into the details of the provincial systems of 
grant-in-aid as they were evolved between 1854 and 1882. But 
the following summary of the criticism levelled against these 
systems by those who had an experiece of their operation will 
show their principal achievements and failures: 

(a) Although private enterprise had increased very considerably 
between 1854 and 1882 and although a part of the credit for this 



increase was undoubtedly due to the poliey of grant-in-aid adopted 
in 1854, it would nevertheless be true to say that even better 
results would have been obtained if the Departmental policies 
were free from certain defects. 

(b) Private enterprise did not always get the best scope or 
adequate financial assistance. 

(c) The amount of grant-in-aid was generally low or inadequate. 
It was also alleged, by several witnesses, that greater partiality 
was shown towards the mission schools in distributing the grants; 
that grants were often not paid in time; that they were often 
suddenly curtailed or withdrawn; and that the failure to provide 
adequate funds in the budget resulted in a reduction of grants 
even for such reasons as increase in the number of private schools 
or in the expenditure of Government institutions. 

(d) It was argued that the rules of grants-in-aid were often cum- 
brous and elaborate; that they were not always given wide 
publicity; and that managers of private institutions were not often 
consulted while revising or amending them. 

(e) Public examinations were often so used as to impose uni- 
form curricula and text-books on all schools and thereby render 
the independent development of private schools impossible. 

(/) Private schools were not sympathetically treated and were 
not accepted as equals of Government schools in matters of status 
and privileges; charges of hostility, competition or indifference 
often levelled against Departmental officers in their dealings with 
the aided schools. It was also argued that the representatives of 
non-Departmental eductaional bodies were not generally consult- 
ed in drawing up educational policies; that they were often exclu- 
ded from examinerships; that scholarships were often confined to 
pupils of Government schools only; and that the axe of retrench- 
ment fell first on aided schools. 

The Commission carefully considered all these charges and came 
to the conclusion that a zealous and all-out effort to encourage 
private enterprise had not yet been made. It, therefore, made 
the following recommendations from this point of view: 

(a) Institutions under private managers cannot be successful 

unless they are frankly accepted as an essential part of the 

general scheme of education. With a view to securing the 





co-operation of Government and non-Government institutions, 
the managers of the latter be consulted on matters of general 
educational interest, and that their students be admitted on 
equal terms to competition for certificates, scholarships and 
other public distinctions. 1 

(b) In the conduct of all departmental examinations, 
managers or teachers of non-Government schools should he 
associated as far as possible with the officers of the Depart- 

(c) All scholarships and rewards that Government confers 
should be given to pupils from all schools and not restricted to 
those in Government institutions only. 

{d) The proximity of a Government school should not be 
regarded as of itself a sufficient reason for refusing aid to a 
non-Government school. 

(e) With the object of rendering assistance to schools in the 
form best suited to the circumstances of each province and thus 
to call forth the largest amount of local co-operation, the grant- 
in-aid rules should be revised by the Local Governments in 
consultation with the managers of schools. The revised rules 
should define without ambiguity and the amount and duration 
of the aid to which an institution may be entitled and the 
conditions of grants for buildings, apparatus and furniture. 

(/) Every application for a grant-in-aid should receive an 
official reply and in case of refusal the reasons for such refusal 
should always be given. 

(g) It should be a general principle that the grant-in-aid 
should depend ( i ) on locality , i.e., larger proportionate grants 
be given to schools in backward districts; and (ii) on the class 
of institutions , z.e.. greater proportionate aid be given to those 
.in which a large amount of self-support cannot be expected, 
e.g.. girl’s schools and schools for lower castes and backward 

(A) Grants be paid without delay when they become due 
according to the rules. 

(*) The revised rules for grant-in-aid and any subsequent 
alterations made in them should be not merely published in the 
official gazettes, but translated into the Indian languages, and 
1 Report, pp. 436 - 7 . 

communicated to the press, to the managers of aided and 
private institutions and to all who are likely to help in any way 
in the spread of education. 

(j) A periodically increasing provision should be made in the 
educational budget of each province for the expansion of aided 

(k) Variety in the course of instruction in aided schools 
should be encouraged by grants for special subjects. 

(/) Greater latitude should be given to the managers of aided 
schools in fixing the course of instruction and the medium 
through which it is conveyed. 

(m) Care should be taken lest public examinations become 
the means of practically imposing the same text-books or 
curriculum on all schools. 

(«) It should be distinctly laid down that Indians having the 
necessary qualifications should be employed as Inspectors of 
Schools more commonly than in the past. 

These comprehensive recommendations of the Commission 
were based on undisputed principles of a successful system of 
grant-in-aid such as the recognition of aided institutions as equal 
to Government institutions in matters of status and privileges, 
the provision of liberal financial assistance, abstinence from inter- 
ference with internal management, and appointment of officials 
who can command the confidence of the managers. 1 hey were 
accepted by Government and the development of private enter- 
prise, particularly in the field of collegiate and secondary educa- 
tion, was therefore, very rapid between 1882 and 1902. Owing 
to the contraction of missionary enterprise, however, it was the 
newly rising Indian private enterprise that got the full benefit 
of this liberal policy and was thereby greatly helped to come into 
its own. 

The Role of the State in Education (1854-1902): We are now in 
a position to discuss the role of the State in Indian education 
between 1854 and 1902. It will have been seen from the fore- 
going discussion that, during this period, 

(a) Government did not and could not identify itself with the 



people. It always held itself aloof and spoke of the Indian 
people making attempts to educate themselves, either 
through private effort or through the local bodies with 
whose administration they were more closely associated; 

{b) Government organised and maintained an Education 
Department primarily to supervise private enterprise and 
incidentally to maintain some institutions of its own; 

(c) Government maintained a few educational institutions 
under its direct control. Some of these were the historical 
legacies of the past, while others were meant to supplement 
private effort and provided costly courses, particularly in 
vocational education, which could not be provided by 
private enterprise. 

The principal activity of Government during this period, there- 
fore, was to assist private enterprise financially and to supervise 
it. The first of these objectives was not always satisfactorily 
carried out and the amount of aid given to private schools was 
not generally adequate. In so far as the second objective is 
concerned, the Department followed a policy of laissez-faire . A 
school that did not ask for aid was not controlled at all. Even 
in the case of aided schools the control of the Department was 
far from rigorous and was mostly restricted to a general inspec- 
tion, examination of pupils and an enquiry as to whether the 
grant-in-aid from Government was properly spent. This lenient 
attitude led, of course, to the existence of many an inefficient 
institution; at the same time, it did considerable good by helping 
private Indian enterprise to develop quickly in these early years. 

The State can play an infinite number of roles in education 
from complete indifference (as in England before 1833) to full 
responsibility (as in England today). In India, Government 
was evidently progressing, during this period, from the role of 
complete indifference which prevailed prior to 1813 to that to full 
assumption of responsibility. But the progress was slow and 
baiting because Government refused, as a matter of policy, to 
Provide all the educational institutions needed by the people. 
*1 only undertook to guide and assist, to such extent as was 
Possible, the educational institutions which the people themselves 
w ould come forward to private and even looked forward to a 


time when the private effort of the people themselves would 
provide all the educational institutions required by the country 
and when Government would not be required to maintain any 
institution of its own. This attitude was due mainly to the 
failure of Government to identify itself with the people and it is 
to this attitude that we can ultimately trace the main achieve- 
ments and failures of this period. Private enterprise is a suitable 
agency for the spread of secondary and collegiate education of 
a literary type because such education is not costly to impart 
and can be made to pay its way through fees and grants-in-aid. 
Very naturally, therefore, it was this type of education that 
flourished most in India between 1854 and 1902. On the other 
hand, the primary education of the masses and vocational and 
technical education are such costly affairs that no tangible pro- 
gress is possible unless Government takes a bold stand and 
accepts all the financial and administrative liabilities involved in 
the proposal. The Government of India was not prepared to do 
so and hence the cause of mass and vocational education lan- 
guished considerably. 

In England, the State accepted responsibility for education in 
1833. But as the people and the Government were one, the 
progress of education was very rapid. In 1870 compulsory 
education was introduced and by 1902, compulsory education 
between 7 and 13 years of age was being effectively enforced in 
all parts of the country. In India, the Company accepted the 
responsibility for educating the people in 1813 — twenty years 
prior to the similar event in England. But owing to the lack of 
identification between the Government and the people, the princi- 
ple of compulsory primary education was not accepted at all and 
Government talked, not of an aggressive and bold educational 
policy to educate the masses, but of emphasising the growth of 
private enterprise, and looked forward to a day when it could 
eliminate even the few institutions that it directly conducted. It 
is mainly because of this policy that India remained so far behind 
England in 1902. 

Chapter Six 

The Victorian Era (II) 


In this chapter, we shall review the remaining main events of 
the period between 1854 and 1902. 

Establishment of Universities: Soon after the receipt of the Des- 
patch of the Court of Directors dated 19th July 1854, the 
Government of India took up the work of organising universities 
at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. The preliminary spade work 
was considerably heavy and naturally took some time; but as 
early as 1857, the Government of India passed Acts of Incorpora- 
tion of all the three Universities. Except for a few changes of 
a local nature, the three Acts are identical and it is enough to 
study one of them in order to understand the constitution of the 
Universities established thereby. 

The preamble of the Bombay University Act, for example, 
defined the object of the University to be the “ascertaining, by 
means of examination, the persons who have acquired proficiency” 
in different branches of learning and “rewarding them by 
Academical Degrees, as evidence of their respective attainments”. 
The Act then nominated the first Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor 
and Fellows, who together constituted the Body corporate of the 
University of Bombay. The number of Fellows excluding the 
Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor was to be not less than twenty- 
six; Fellows were of two classes: ex-officio Fellows wlio included 
the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, the Bishop of 
Bombay, Members of the Executive Council of the Governor of 
Bombay, the Director of Public Instruction, Bombay, the 
Educational Inspector of the Presidency Division, and the 
Principals of all Government Colleges; the other Fellows were 
called Ordinary Fellows and were appointed by Government for 



life 9 vacancies in their ranks being caused only by death, resigna- 
tion, departure from India without the intention of returning 
thereto, or by cancellation of appointment by Government. The 
Senate of the University consisted of the Chancellor (who was 
always the Governor of Bombay), the Vice-Chancellor (whose 
appointment was made by the Governor-in-Council for a period of 
two years at a time) and the Fellows both ex-officio and ordinary. 
It was empowered by the Act to carry on all the day-to-day admi- 
nistration of the university. The contents of the Acts for the 
Universities of Calcutta and Madras Were exactly similar, except 
for changes in the numbers and names of the first Fellows. 

Criticism of the University Acts of 1857: There is little to com- 
ment on in these Acts; but it may be helpful for a proper under- 
standing of the subject to call specia^ attention to the following 
features of the scheme: 

{a) There was no upper limit to the number of the Fellows. 
The inevitable consequence was that the Senates grew unwieldy, 
especially as the Fellows were to be appointed for life and not for 
a special period. 

(6) In the universities it is customary to have a small executive 
body called the Syndicate and to entrust it with the details of the 
day-to-day administration. But it is significant that the Act 
makes no mention of the Syndicate and gives all powers to the 
Senate only. In practice, however, Syndicates came to be esta- 
blished in virtue of the regulations framed by the Senates and 
they were also entrusted with certain powers. The point to be 
noted is that the Syndicate received no statutory recognition in 
the Acts of Incorporation. 

(c) The preamble limited the functions of the universities to 
the holding of examinations and the granting of degrees only. 
This was no doubt in keeping with the constitution of the London 
University as it was in 1857 but it did not carry out, in full, the 
intentions of the Despatch of 1854 with regard to the functions 
of the proposed Universities. It is true that, according to the 
Despatch, Indian universities were “not so much to be in them- 
selves places of instruction” as agencies “to test the value of the 
education obtained elsewhere”, 1 but the Despatch had also 

1 Wood's Education Despatch , para. 36. 



pointed out that it would be 4 ‘ad vis able to institute in connection 
with the Universities, professorships for the purpose of the 
delivery of lectures in various branches of learning for the acqi- 
sition of which, at any rate in an advanced degree, facilities do 
not now exist in other institutions in India,” 1 such as Law, Civil 
Engineering, the classical as well as modern languages of India, 
etc. One cannot help feeling here that the framers of the Indian 
Universities Acts in 1857 took a very narrow view of the Despatch 
of 1854. ' 

(d) The type of the university organisation that was created by 
the Act of 1857 is known technically as the Affiliating University. 
In this form of organisation, the affiliated colleges are the real 
centres of learning and the university itself is not a unit of teaching 
but a mere unit of administration whose sole duty is to hold 
examinations and confer degrees. This form of a university had 
undoubtedly certain immediate advantages in the conditions of 
India as they were in 1857, but it was harmful to national interests 
in the long run. It is a matter for regret that the ultimate dis- 
advantages of the system were ignored in view of its immediate 
advantages and that it was decided to follow the line of least 
resistance in preference to a programme of intelligent planning in 
national interest. The decision looks almost tragic if one remem- 
bers that the London University itself was remodelled in 1858 and 
gave up the affiliating type as unsatisfactory! Perhaps, it would 
have contributed more to the welfare of the nation had the Uni- 
versity Acts been passed in 1859 instead of in 1857. 

Growth of Universities between 1857 and 1902: Let us now turn 
to the growth of universities between 1857 and 1902. The Acts 
of Incorporation of the universities recited by name the degrees 
which the university might confer. It was afterwards found desi- 
rable to add others to the list and hence in 1860 the Indian Uni- 
versities (Degrees) Act was passed empowering the universities to 
confer such diplomas or degrees or licences as had been or might 
be approved by the bye-laws or regulations. In 1884, the Indian 
Universities (Honorary Degrees) Act was passed which empowered 
the three universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras to confer 
the Honorary Degree of LL.D. 

1 Ibid., paras. 30-32 


In 1882, the Punjab University was established by a special Act 
of Incorporation. The general framework of this Act was similar 
to the Acts of 1857; but the Punjab University differed from the 
older universities in several important matters. These have been 
mentioned in the following words in the Quinquennial Review of 
the Progress of Education in India, 1897-1902: 

(1) It has a Faculty of Oriental Learning, and confers the 
degrees of Bachelor, Master, and Doctor of Oriental Learning 
on candidates who have gone through a course of training 
analogous to that prescribed for the examinations for the 
degrees in Arts, but through the medium not of English but 
of Urdu. 

(2) It confers oriental literary titles on successful candidates 
in examinations wl?ich it holds in Sanskrit, Arabic, and 

(3) It conducts proficiency and high proficiency examinations 
in vernacular languages. 

(4) It grants native titles to students of Muhammadan and 
Hindu law and medicine. 

(5) It conducts various school examinations. 

(6) It maintains an Oriental College and a Law College, and 
it may maintain ‘such other schools and colleges as the Senate 
may from time to time direct’. 

(7) The Senate advises on educational matters generally. 1 

In 1887, another special Act of Incorporation established the 
fifth Indian University at Allahabad. As R. Nathan observes: 

An Act was passed in the Council of the Governor-General 
in the year 1887 incorporating the University of Allahabad. 
The Local Government carefully considered the exact form the 
University should take, and in especial whether in addition to 
prescribing courses and conducting examinations it should 
maintain a staff of professors and even of private teachers, after 
the pattern of the Universities of Germany. While recognising 
the great value of a university of this type the Lieutenant- 

1 Vol. I, para. 153. 





Governor considered that, at dll events at first, the University 
should confine its operations to the direction of the methods 
and aims of instruction; adapting them to the needs, circum- 
stances, provisions and predilections of the country, which is 
gradually recovering its place in the intellectual progress of 
India. The Act imposes no limitations on the scope and 
activity of the University, but hitherto Allahabad has conform- 
ed to the practice of the three original Universities and 
confined itself to conferring degrees on candidates who pass its 
examinations after following a prescribed course of study in an 
institution affiliated to it. 1 

Collegiate Education (1854-1902): It will be seen from the fore- 
going account that, during the period under review, all the five 
universities in India were merely affiliating and examining bodies. 
They did no direct teaching work but contented themselves by 
testing the students educated in affiliated colleges. No adequate 
idea of university education between 1854 and 1902 can, there- 
fore, be had from the history of the universities alone; it will have 
to be supplemented by an account of the development of collegiate 
education in the same period. 

Collegiate Education Prior to 1857: Although the universities 
were established as late as in 1857, educational institutions which 
called themselves colleges were in existence for about seventy 
years previously. The earliest colleges of this period such as 
the Calcutta Madrassa or the Banaras Sanskrit College were 
established by Government and were generally modelled on the 
ancient educational institutions of the Muslims and Hindus. 
Colleges imparting instruction in Western knowledge were first 
established by missionaries. Government soon followed their 
example and began to establish colleges of modern type, especially 
after the controversy between the Anglicists and the Classicists 
had come to an end. The only College organised by a Committee 
with whose management Indians were associated was, as we have 
already seen, the Hindu Vidyalaya of Calcutta. This was, 

Quinquennial Review of the Progress of Education in India, 1897-1902 
Vol. I, para. 154. 

however, merged later in the Presidency College established in 
1854 by Lord Dalhousie, and hence in 1857, there was not a single 
college managed 'by Indians themselves, it must be pointed out, 
however, that Indians had given munificent donations for establish- 
ment of colleges notably in connection with the Elphinstone 
Institution, Bombay, and the colleges at Agra and Delhi. 

It must be remembered that these early institutions for im- 
parting higher education were quite different from the colleges 
of today. Many of the colleges grew out of schools teaching 
English and contained classes ‘‘in which the alphabet was taught 
under the same roof with classes reading Shakespeare, the Cal- 
culus, Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and the Ramayana”. 1 The 
word college seems then to have been used rather loosely to 
denote “an institution where a high type of instruction is given”. 

Growth of Collegiate Education between 1857 and 1882: Colleges 
in the modern sense of the word may be said to have started to 
function after 1857 when the universities came to be established. 
Henceforward, they could only admit such students as had passed 
the entrance examination held by the universities to which they 
were affiliated and impart instruction according to such courses 
only as had been prescribed by the universities. In short, colleges 
now became an integral part of the universities themselves and 
provided instruction in higher branches of learning on their 

The development of colleges was fairly rapid during the twenty- 
five years between the establishment of the. universities and the 
appointment of the Indian Education Commission. This was 
partly due to the rapid development of secondary education and 
partly to the liberal encouragement given by Government. At the 
first matriculation examinations of the universities, only 219 
candidates were declared to have passed. 2 But in 1881-82, as 
many as 7,429 pupils appeared for the matriculation examination 
from British India only and 2,778 of these were declared to have 
passed. In those days a very large number of the candidates 
who passed the matriculation sought admission to universities, 

1 Report of the Indian Education Commission, p. 18. 

Calcutta Universities 162 (in 1857); Bombay University 21 (in 1859); 
and Madras University 36 (in 1857). 


mainly owing to the material advantages that were then attainable 
by holders of university degrees. Consequently, the number of 
colleges as well as their attendance increased considerably between 
1857 and 1882. The following table compares the colleges in 
1857 with those in 1882: 

No. of 

No. of 

Colleges in 

Colleges in 



















North-Western Province 



Central Provinces 

enfrv ° f tWs period that deserves notice is the 

® f Indla “ pr ‘ vate enterprise into the field of the direct 
management of collegiate institutions. Even in 1881-82, Indians 
conducted five aided colleges-two in the North-Western Province, 
an three in Madras. The two colleges in the North-Western 
Province were the Canning College, Lucknow, and the Mahomedan 
Anglo-Oriental College, Aligarh. They later grew into univer- 
sities. The three colleges in Madras were the Pachaiyappa’s 
ol ege and the Hindu Colleges at Vizianagram and Tinnevelly. 

7s^ aCha,y i? P ? a S Collcge arose out of a school established in 
1842 from, the funds derived from a bequest for pious use made 

by Pachaiyappa, a wealthy Hindu gentleman; the Vizianagram 
College was established as a school in 1857 by His Highness the 
Maharaja of Vizianagram; and the Tinnevelly College was 
established in 1861. It should be remembered, however, that the 
principals of these colleges were generally Europeans and that 
Indians were then considered unfit to become the principals of 
nrst-class colleges. 

Recommendations of the Indian Education Commission: The 

report of the Indian Education Commission did little to improve 

university education. The Government Resolution appointing 



the Commission observed that it would “not be necessary for the 
Commission to enquire into the general working of the Indian 
universities, which are controlled by corporations comprising 
representatives of all classes interested in collegiate education” 
and that a fair estimate of the results of their operation could 
always be formed independently of any special inquiry. The 
Commission was also precluded from studying professional 
colleges because that “would expand unduly” the task before it. 
The Commission could not, therefore, study the problem of 
collegiate education in a comprehensive manner and hence its 
recommendations on this subject are not so important as those on 
secondary or primary education. 

Growth of Colleges between 1882 and 1902: Although the 
recommendations of the Commission regarding collegiate educa- 
tion itself were not of great importance, its recommendations on 
other matters reacted indirectly on the development of collegiate 
education in two ways: 

(a) Firstly, the recommendations led to a great expansion of 
secondary education. But as there was no provision of varied 
courses at the upper secondary stage, most of the pupils in 
secondary schools prepared themselves for the matriculation 
examination. Moreover, a very large percentage of those who 
passed the matriculation joined the colleges partly owing to the 
fact that the more lucrative posts under Government were open 
only to holders of university degrees, and partly from a lack 
of alternative openings. Consequently, the number of students 
seeking admission to colleges increased substantially year after 

( b ) Secondly, the recommendations of the Commission created 
a background in which Indian private enterprise could thrive. As 
we have seen, missionary institutions dominated the private effort 
in collegiate education in 1882. But the situation began to alter 
after the report of the Commission. Missionary institutions made 
only a slight progress; and new institutions managed by Indians 
came into the field in large numbers. Even in 1901-2, Arts 
colleges in British India conducted by Indians numbered 42 as 
against 37 conducted by Missions. 

It is hardly a matter for surprise, therefore, if this period 





witnessed a very rapid increase in the number of colleges of general 
education. In 1901-2, the total number of colleges and their 
students was as follows: 

No. of 

No. of 

Arts Colleges: 







Professional Colleges: 



















It will be seen from the above statistics that the largest expan- 
sion had taken place in Arts colleges. These were mostly of the 
type of the Hindu Vidyalaya of Hare, i.e., colleges which mainly 
taught a literary course and imparted a more or less sound 
knowledge in subjects like English literature or history, but which 
provided very few facilities for the study of scientific subjects. 
The professional colleges, it will be seen, were a small minority. 
The most popular professional course appears to be that of Law 
which had as many as 2,767 students. Next in order come the 
Medical colleges with 1,466 students followed by Engineering 
colleges with 865 students. These three professions account 
practically for ninety per cent of students who were receiving 
professional education. On the whole, therefore, it will be 
evident that the collegiate education of 1901-2 was predominantly 
literary education and that, even among the professions, the black- 
coated professions of the lawyer and the doctor were the most 
popular ones. India was, at this time, an economically backward 
country. She needed an extensive development of her industries 
and to that end, a large-scale expansion of industrial and technical 
education. But the above statistics show that the higher educa- 
tion in India had developed, between 1854 and 1902, not accord- 
ing to the requirements of the nation, but according to the needs 
of Government and the tastes of the upper classes. 

Defects of Collegiate Education (1854-1902): The system of 
collegiate education in India developed some major defects 
between 1854 and 1902, and by the end of the century these had 
already begun to cause great concern to Government and the 
leaders of public opinion. Regarding some of these defects, there 
was hardly any controversy. For example, reference has 
been made above to the lop-sided development of liberal educa- 
tion and to the neglect of professional education in general and 
of industrial and technical education in particular. To these 
may be added the uneven spread of higher education among 
different communities of the Hindu society or among the followers 
of different religions. The complete absence of women students 
from the Muslim community and the extremely small number of 
Hindu girls studying in colleges was another serious defect. 
These were defects regarding which all sides were agreed and no 
controversy existed, either about the nature of the evil or the 
means to remove it. 

But there were some other defects in respect of which opinion 
was keenly divided. Conflicts particularly arose between the 
official and the non-official points of view and became wider and 
deeper as a nationalist public opinion began to be formed in 
India, especially after the establishment of the Indian National 
Congress in 1885. Among these controversies, special mention 
must be made of (a) the violent and protracted disputes regarding 
the study of the modern Indian languages at the university stage, 
(6) the experiments to impart higher professional education 
through the modern Indian languages, and (c) the reactions to the 
rapid expansion of collegiate education, especially under private 
Indian management, that had taken place since 1854 and parti- 
cularly after 1882. 

(a) Neglect of the Modern Indian Languages at the University 
Stage: A serious defect of university education of this period 
which led to a heated controversy was the neglect of modern 
Indian languages. It will be recalled that the Despatch of 1854 
suggested that, Vit would greatly encourage the cultivation of 
the vernacular language of India, that professorship should be 
founded for those languages’* in the universities which were then, 
p roposed to be established. The natural expectation, therefore 
was that the universities would establish professorships of modern 





Indian languages and bring about their development in such a 
way that they could be adopted as media of instruction at all 
stages at a very early date. But unfortunately, these hopes were 
never realised. As stated already, the new universities were 
purely examining bodies and had no powers to appoint professors 
to do teaching work on their behalf. But it was still possible 
for them to institute examinations in modern Indian languages 
so that they might be taught in affiliated colleges at least. This 
step was taken in the beginning, but very soon the wind began 
to blow in the contrary direction and, except in Madras, the 
modern Indian languages came to be either totally excluded from 
the university courses or were allowed to occupy only a very 
subordinate place in them. This becomes clear from the Report 
of the Indian Universities Commission, 1902. From the analysis 
of the university courses given by the Commission on pp. 21-24 of 
its report, it is seen that: 

(0 At the Entrance Examination, one of the four compulsory 
subjects was Second Language which was defined as “(a) an 
Oriental or European classical language, or ( b ) an Indian or Con- 
tinental European classical language.” In Allahabad and Punjab 
universities, the option of a vernacular language was not given 
and in the Punjab, a candidate could take a fifth optional subject 
which might be a vernacular language, elementary science, or a 
second classical language. 

(/0 At the Intermediate Examination, a second language defined 
as “an Eastern or Western classical or modern European 
language” was compulsory. Madras University alone added the 
option of a modern Indian language. 

(///) At the B . A . Examination , again Madras was the only uni- 
versity where the modern Indian languages were included as an 
option to a classical language. 

It would, therefore, be clear that, except in Madras, the study 
of modern Indian languages was neglected in the ordinary courses 
of the university. This was one of the important reasons which 
led to the slow development of Indian languages and to the 
creation of a cultural gulf between the intelligentsia educated in 
the universities and the masses. 

(b) Medium of Instruction in Junior Courses of University 
Level. The problem of the medium of instruction at the collegiate 

stage did not ar i se at during the period, when the officers of 
the department who also dominated the universities were of the 
opinion that the modern Indian languages did not even deserve 
to be studied as a subject during the university course. It goes 
without saying that there was no room for a proposal to adopt 
the modern Indian languages as media of instruction at the 
collegiate stage. One development of this period, however, 
deserves special notice. As already stated in Chapter III, there 
were medical schools in Bombay and Bengal where instruction 
was given through the modern Indian languages. These courses 
were of an inferior standard as compared to the degree courses 
conducted in English in the medical colleges and were meant to 
recruit officers to the subordinate ranks of the medical depart- 
ment. They, however, served the very useful purpose of having 
been the cause of producing good medical books in modern Indian 
languages. In the Grant Medical College in Bombay, for 
example, well-known doctors wrote books in Marathi on all 
medical subjects and the standard of instruction imparted in the 
subordinate Medical class where instruction was given through 
Marathi (and later on in Gujarati) was very high. In order to 
popularise the course, Shri Jagannath Shankershet and others 
instituted a number of scholarships and prizes for those who 
would go in for it. But owing to the general neglect of modern 
Indian languages which was so conspicuous a feature of this 
period, these attempts to give a medical education of a high 
standard through Marathi or Gujarati generally came to be 
condemned by the officers of the Department, and the Medical 
courses teaching through the mother-tongue were discontinued by 
about 1880. A great experiment of still greater potential signi- 
ficance was thus allowed to go to waste. If these early experi- 
ments had been carefully developed, the problem of medium of 
instruction at university stage would have been satisfactorily 
solved long ago in India. 

(c) Rapid Expansion of Collegiate Education, especially under 
Private Indian Enterprise (1882-1902): Another defect in the 
development of collegiate education in this period was that the 
quality of education had been lowered in the course of the rapid 
expansion that had taken place between 1882 and 1902. But this 
development was not viewed from the same angle by different 



educationists. Some educationists considered that this expansion 
was an evil because they believed that it was being secured at the 
cost of efficiency which to them, was more important than 
mere numbers. This class of thinkers consisted mostly 
of Government officials and missionaries whose view can best 
be stated in the following words of the Calcutta University 

Indeed, their (i.e., of the Indian Education Commission) 
main policy, that of reducing Government expenditure in this 
sphere, and encouraging local and private effort, was essentially 
irreconcilable with any large scheme for deepening and streng- 
thening the intellectual vitality of the colleges. Extensive, not 
intensive, growth was the necessary result of the policy which 
they recommended; and most of the new colleges which were 
stimulated into existence by their policy during the following 
twenty years were necessarily weak, understaffed and incapable 
of affording the individual attention to the needs of the student, 
or of providing the varied courses of study, practical as well as 
literary, which were necessary for the healthy development of 
Bengal. The main feature of the twenty years following 1882 
was to be the rapid creation of colleges which depended mainly 
or wholly upon fees, and throve as coaching institutions, rather 
than as places of learning. 1 

On the other hand, there was a group of educationists, con- 
sisting mostly of Indians, who thought that expansion was far 
more important than efficiency in the early stages of a nation’s 
struggle for advance. This view may best be stated in the following 
words of G.K. Gokhale: 

Let not Government imagine that unless the education 
imparted by colleges is the highest which is at the present day 
possible, it is likely to prove useless and even pernicious; and 
Secondly, let not the achievements of our graduates in the 
intellectual field be accepted as the sole, or even the most 
important test to determine the utility of this education. I 
think, my Lord — and this is a matter of deep conviction with 
'Report, Vol. I, pp. 59-60 


me— that, in the present circumstances of India, all Western 
education is valuable and useful. If it is the highest that 
under the circumstances is possible, so much the better. But 
even if it is not the highest, it must not on that account be 
rejected. I believe that the life of a people— whether in the 
political or social or industrial or intellectual field— is an 
organic whole, and no striking progress in any particular field 
is to be looked for, unless there be room for the free movement 
of the energies of the people in all fields. To my mind, the 
greatest work of Western education in the present state of 
India is not so much the encouragement of learning as the 
liberation of the Indian mind from the thraldom of old-world 
ideas, and the assimilation of all that is highest and best in 
the life and thought and character of the West. For this pur- 
pose not only the highest but all Western education is useful. 1 

By 1901-2, therefore, university and collegiate education in 
India presented a motley picture. On the one hand, there had 
been considerable expansion of collegiate education and it was 
creating a veritable renaissance in all walks of Indian life. On 
the other hand, the efficiency of the new colleges was not very 
high and serious defects like utter neglect of modern Indian 
languages, lopsided expansion of liberal education, etc., had also 
been developed. As we shall see in Chapter VII, this unhappy 
position led to serious controversies between officials and non- 
officials when Lord Curzon started his drive to reform education 
especially because the two sides could not agree, either regarding 
the nature of the evils or regarding the means to overcome them. 

Expansion of Secondary Education (1854-1902): The history of 
secondary education between 1854 and 1902 is similar to that of 
collegiate education and shows the same motley picture of expan- 
sion on the one hand and the development of serious defects on 
the other. 

(a) Expansion of Secondary Education (1854-82): Soon after 

the receipt of the Despatch of 1854, an era of rapid multiplica- 
tion of secondary schools set in. The lead in this movement was 
naturally taken by the newly created Departments of Public 
1 Speeches , pp. 234-5. 




Instruction whose task was greatly facilitated by the growing 
demand for English education and the larger grants placed at 
their disposal by the Government of India. Between 1854 and 
1870, therefore, there was a large increase in the number of 
secondary schools directly conducted by Government. In the 
latter year, there was a slight change in Government policy. 
Successive reviews of the progress of education in India which 
were undertaken by Government in the period 1865-70, emphasised 
the need of extending elementary education among the masses, 
with the result that the force of Government effort for the second- 
ary education slackened to some extent. But in spite of this 
slackening, the number of Government secondary schools in 1882 
was 1,363 (with 44,605 pupils) 1 as against 169 (with 18,335 
pupils) in 1855. 

There is, however, no need to regret this slackening of effort 
on the part of Government. The Despatch of 1854, it will be 
recalled, laid great stress on the system of grant-in-aid. Every 
Provincial Government, therefore, framed rules of grant-in-aid 
and made considerable budget provision for assisting private 
enterprise. Consequently, private secondary schools were opened 
and began to multiply at a very rapid rate and, within a few years, 
more than made up for the slackening in Government effort. 

One feature of this period deserves special notice. In the early 
years following Wood’s Despatch, private enterprise in secondary 
education was mostly confined to the Missionaries. But within 
a few years, Indians themselves entered the field in such large 
numbers that by 1882, the schools under Indian management 
constituted the bulk of private enterprise. 2 In Madras, Indian 
enterprise had just got the better of missionary activities which, 
in that Province, had spread far more widely than in any other. 
It was well under way in Bombay and was just beginning to 
develop in the other Provinces. But it is to be noted that, even 
at this early date, the English schools conducted by Indians were 
nearly twice as many as those conducted by all other non-govern- 
ment agencies put together. 


1 Indiait Education Commission, General Table l a. 

! Schools under Indian managers were 1,341 (with 336,837 pupils) as 
against 757 (with 286,877 pupils) under other managers. 


(b) The Recommendation of the Indian Education Commission 
Regarding Expansion of Secondary Education : When the Indian 
Education Commission was appointed in 1882, it had to make 
recommendations on two important matters connected with the 
expansion of secondary education. Firstly, it had to suggest ways 
and means for securing a still more rapid expansion of secondary 
education. The rate of increase of secondary schools and pupils 
had, no doubt, been rapid in the period between 1854 and 1882. 
But the taste for English education had so materially increased 
during the same period that a faster expansion of secondary 
education was generally felt to be necessary. Secondly, the Com- 
mission had to recommend the best agency for expansion of 
secondary education. At this period, educational opinion was 
strongly divided on this subject. One view held that Government 
ought to multiply the number of secondary schools directly under 
its control because these schools were far more efficient than pri- 
vate ones. On the other hand, there was a large section of. 
opinion which recommended on various grounds that 'private 
enterprise— particularly Indian private enterprise — should be 
encouraged as an effective means of expanding secondary educa- 
tion. In the first place, the schools conducted by private enter- 
prise charged lower fees and were consequently more able to 
spread education among the poorer sections of the community. 
Secondly, the grant-in-aid given to these institutions was far less 
than the expenditure required for maintenance of a secondary 
school directly under the control of Government. It was, there- 
fore, argued that a private institution was to be preferred to a 
Government Institution as a means of spreading secondary educa- 
tion among the people in a short period and at a comparatively 
low cost. 

The Commission held the view that Government ought to 
withdraw from the field of direct management of secondary 
schools and encourage private enterprise as largely as possible. 
It was of opinion that the relation of the State to primary was 
different from that to secondary education. It was a duty of 
the State to provide primary education, recourse being had to 
statutory compulsion if the people showed unwillingness to be 
educated. Consequently, it was the duty of the State to provide 
primary schools, not only in places where the people asked for 


them, but in all places where they were necessary. Secondary 
education, on the other hand, did not have such a paramount 
claim upon the State. Government was not under an obligation 
to provide it directly although it was bound to encourage all such 
efforts as the people would make to educate themselves. The 
Commission, therefore , recommended that secondary education 
should p as far as possible , be provided on the grant-in-aid basis and 
Government should withdraw as early as possible, from the direct 
management of secondary schools . 

This fundamental recommendation— entirely in keeping with 
the Despatch of 1854 — raised the following issues: 

(a) What was to be the future of secondary schools already 
conducted by Government? 

(b) What was to be done in places where the people were 
not sufficiently advanced or wealthy to maintain secondary 
schools on the grant-in-aid basis? 

With regard to the first question, the Commission recom- 
mended that the goal of Government effort should be to transfer 
gradually all Government secondary schools to a suitable 
non-Government agency, provided that adequate guarantees of 
permanence and efficiency were forthcoming. With regard to 
the second question, the Commission held that the above 
recommendation did not prohibit the “establishment by Govern- 
ment, in exceptional cases, of secondary schools in places where 
they may be required in the interests of the people, and where the 
people themselves may not be advanced or wealthy enough to 
establish such schools for themselves with a grant-in-aid”. But 
the Commission emphasised that the duty of Government was 
restricted only to the establishment of one efficient high school, 
Government or aided, in each district and that Government 
should thereafter leave the further expansion of secondary 
education in that district to the private effort of the people 

(c) Expansion of Secondary Education between 1882 and 1902 : 
The action taken on the above recommendations of the Com- 
mission may be briefly described. To begin with, the Provincial 
Governments in India accepted the recommendations of the 


Commission regarding expansion and encouragement of private 
enterprise . Consequently, the twenty years following the report 
of the Commission saw a very rapid expansion of secondary 
education, especially through private schools. The following 
statistics will be found interesting from this point of view: 





1. No. of Secondary Schools 



2. No. of Pupils in Secondary School s 



Vide Report of the Indian Education Commission , p. 193. 

It has to be remembered that these statistics of secondary 
education have certain defects. For instance, the term secondary 
education is not interpreted in the same sense in all provinces. 
In Bombay and Madras, the pupils in upper primary classes are 
shown under “primary education” while those in Northern India 
are shown under “secondary education*’. Secondly, these figures 
also include, in some cases, the pupils in primary departments 
of high schools. These defects cannot be remedied now. But 
for purposes of comparison, they can be ignored and the above 
statistics taken as showing, in a general way, the progress of 
secondary education between 1882 and 1902. It will be seen 
from the above statistics, therefore, that the expansion of secon- 
dary education was very rapid, and that the number of pupils 
under instruction was more than doubled in the twenty years 
between 1882 and 1902. 

Defects of Secondary Education (1854-1902); This expansion of 
secondary education was not an unmixed blessing. Very early in 
this period, the system of secondary education developed serious 
defects among which may be mentioned (a) the neglect of the 
mother-tongue as a medium of instruction, (6) lack of trained 
teachers, and (c) absence of vocational courses at the secondary 
stage. Throughout this period, these defects persisted in spite of 
the several attempts, made to remove them. We shall now deal 
with the history of this aspect of the problem. 





(a) Neglect of the Mother-Tongue as a Medium of Instruction : 
The Despatch of 1854 had visualised secondary schools teaching 
through the mother-tongue, in addition to those that taught 
through the medium of English. Had these sentiments been 
steadily kept in view by later administrators, there would have 
grown up a system of high schools teaching through the modern 
Indian languages and, in course of time, even universities teaching 
through them could have come into existence. But unfortunately 
the policy of the Education Department at this time was apparent- 
ly not favourable to the cultivation of the modern languages 
of India; and instead of trying to eliminate the difference that 
existed between Anglo- Vernacular and Vernacular schools as the 
Despatch expected them to do, the Departments introduced re- 
forms that tended to widen this difference. A review of the courses 
of secondary and primary education (as they existed in 1882) 
clearly shows that, 

(i) the study of English as a language was begun (except in 
Bombay) when the pupil was not properly grounded in his own 

(«) English was taught as a subject (except in most high schools 
of Bengal) before it was used as a medium of instruction . But the 
period of its study as a subject was too short to give the pupil a 
mastery over the language which is essential for its successful use 
as a medium of instruction. In fact, the Indian Education Com- 
mission pointed out that English was used as a medium of 
instruction, not because the pupil had mastered it as a subject 
but because the school managers were eager to give the pupil the 
largest possible opportunities of reading, speaking, and writing 
English so that he might obtain a command over the language 

( in ) In the high school stage, English was invariably used as a 
medium of instruction. 

(*v) Except in the Punjab, the highest education that could be 
obtained through the mother-tongue was limited to the middle 
stage, and the idea of high schools teaching through the mother- 
tongue seemed to have been given up. Even in the Punjab, there 
was only one high school teaching through the mother-tongue 
(at Jalandar) and three other high schools had primary sections. 
But the fact that there were only four high schools impartin 

instruction through the mother- tongue as against 181 teaching 
through English shows how the system had drifted far from the 
ideals of Wood’s Despatch* 

In short, the^conclusion becomes inevitable that the more im- 
portant object of the secondary course of 1882 was to spread a 
knowledge of English and not to spread European knowledge of a 
less high order through English as well as through the mother- 
tongue as laid down in the Despatch of 1854. 

This question came before the Indian Education Commission 
for consideration. Unfortunately, the recommendation of the 
Commission regarding the problem of medium of instruction were 
extremely disappointing. It said nothing regarding the use of 
the mother-tongue as the medium at the high school stage, and 
evidently fauvored the use of English. The only problem that 
it considered was that of the medium of instruction at the middle 
school stage , and even here, it came to no definite conclusion. We 
may well quote the words of the Commission itself: 

We do not put forward any definite recommendation on this 
subject but at the same time we commend its consideration, in 
the light of the observations above made, both to Local Govern- 
ments and Departments, and in an equal degree to the managers 
of aided and unaided secondary schools. It is a question in 
the decision of which much must depend on local circumstances 
and hence the freest scope in dealing with it should be left to 
the managers of schools, whatsoever be the view which the 
Department in any Province may be disposed to adopt. 1 

Mainly owing to these halting recommendations, there was 
hardly any achievement, between 1882 and 1902, on the issue of 
adopting the modern Indian languages as media of instruction at 
the secondary stage. The idea of developing high schools teaching 
through the medium of the mother- tongue was definitely abandon- 
ed and by 1902, the highest education which a child could obtain 
through its mother-tongue was limited to the middle-school stage 
only in dll the Provinces of British India. The Indian Education 
Commission did not make any definite recommendation which 
would have declared the dominance of English or helped the 
1 Report, pp. 210-1 1 . 





modern Indian languages to come into their own. Consequently, 
the dominance of English in the secondary course continued to 
grow; and by 1902, the teaching of English came to be regarded 
as the prime object of the secondary course. study of the 
languages was consequently neglected; the study of English was 
very frequently begun even before the pupil had obtained a good 
knowledge of his mother-tongue; and English was used as a 
medium of instruction so early in the secondary course that most 
of the time of the pupils had to be devoted to overcoming the 
difficulties created by the medium of instruction and examination 
rather than in mastering the liberal subjects in the curriculum. 

(b) Training of Secondary Teachers-. Although the Educational 
Despatch of 1854 emphasised the importance of training teachers, 
no satisfactory measures were taken to train secondary teachers 
in the thir ty years following the Despatch. Prior to the report of 
the Indian Education Commission, there were, in the whole of 
India, only two training institutions for secondary (English) 
school teachers— one at Madras (established in 1856) and the 
other at Lahore (established in 1880). The training school at 
Madras consisted, in 1882, of 8 graduates, 3 who had passed the 
first year examination in Arts, and 18 matriculates. The College 
at Lahore admitted 30 students of any qualification higher than 
that of a first year examination in Arts. There was no practising 
school and in spite of the difference in attainments of the students, 
they were all treated as one class and put through the same 
course. It is, therefore, easy to see that only a very small number 
of teachers in secondary schools could have been trained even in 
the restricted sense that the above picture of the then training 
institutions suggests. 

Even in 1882, it was a matter for controversy whether secondary 
teachers do or do not need training. It is not, therefore, surprising 
that the recommendations of the Indian Education Commission 
on this subject were too tame to be really progressive. It recom- 

(a) that an examination in the principles and practice of teaching 
be instituted, success in which should thereafter be a condition of 
permanent employment as a teacher in any secondary school. 
Government or aided; 

( b ) that graduates wishing to attend a course of instruction 

in a normal school in the principles and practice of teach- 
ing be required to undergo a shorter course of training than 

As may be easily imagined, progress in training secondary 
teachers was very slow in the twenty years following the report 
of the Indian Education Commission. In 1901-2, there were six 
training colleges (as against two in 1882) at Saidapet, Raja- 
mahendry, Kurseong, Allahabad, Lahore and Jubbulpore. Every 
province'in India had organised a certificate examination for 
teachers while the Madras University had instituted the L.T. 
degree. Besides the six colleges mentioned above, there were 
a number of schools for the training of secondary teachers. By 
1902, Bombay was the only major province that had not organised 
a training institution for secondary teachers. 

(c) Absence of Vocational Courses: The Despatch of 1854 
explicitly started that the instruction in secondary school should 
be “practically useful to the people of India in their different 
spheres of life”, and desired that the new schools which it pro- 
posed to establish should “provide more opportunities than now 
exist for the acquisition of such an improved education as will 
make those who possess it more useful members of society in 
every condition of life”. This clearly shows that the Despatch 
contemplated the provision of vocational or pre-vocational 
instruction at the secondary stage. 

But this salutary advice was neglected by later administrators. 
Even as late as 1882, the Indian Education Commission found 
that it was only in the Province of Bombay that some provision 
was made for vocational education by the grant of a few scholar- 
ships of Rs. 4 per month to children of agriculturists in order to 
encourage them to attend model farms connected with high 
schools, for instruction in practical agriculture. Barring this 
solita/y exception, the high schools throughout India had been 
regarded “not only or chiefly as schools for secondary instruction, 
intended for pupils whose instruction will terminate at that stage, 
but in a much greater degree — it may almost be said exclusively 
— as preparatory schools for those who are to become students 
of the university”. 1 

x Report of the Indian Education Commission, p. 219. 



This unhappy result was due to three causes. In tbe first place, 
most of the pupils of the secondary schools of those days belonged 
to the educationally advanced classes of society whose main 
object was to obtain employment under Government because it 
secured, at one stroke, a black- coated profession, a status in 
society, and economic improvement. They flocked to the secondary 
schools, not with a view to being trained for the various stations 
in life— but with the definite objective of passing the Matricula- 
tion which, in those days, opened the door to service under 
Government. To the more ambitious of these, the passing of the 
Matriculation meant an entrance to the University from where 
they could get into higher and more lucrative posts under Govern- 
ment. Hence these classes of society came to attach an exag- 
gerated importance to the Matriculation examination and to a 
proficiency in English. This demand for the Matriculation certificate 
was bound to be reflected in the work of secondary schools — all 
the more so because the bulk of secondary schools came, in the 
course of time, to be managed by the educationally advanced 
classes themselves. Secondly , Government itself had not taken 
any steps to provide vocational education in secondary schools. 
In those days, the schools conducted by Government were consi- 
dered to be model institutions and usually set the standard for 
private entrepreneurs to follow; and as Government schools made 
no provision for vocational courses, it was hardly to be wondered 
if private schools did not do so. Thirdly , most of the newer 
schools that came into existence did not have adequate financial 
resources at the start, and hence they usually confined their work 
to the course of liberal education leading to the Matriculation 
because it required the least equipment and expenditure. One 
need not, therefore, be surprised if the average secondary school 
of 1882 meant merely a place for preparing candidates for the 
Matriculation examination. 

The Indian Education Commission, therefore, gave considerable 
attention to the provision of vocational courses at the upper 
secondary stage with a view to preparing pupils for various walks 
of life. It recommended a bifurcation of the secondary course 
and said: 

We, therefore, recommend that in the upper classes of high 


: - .'Vf/i i 

schools there be two divisions; one leading to the Entrance ex- 
amination of the Universities, the other of a more practical cha- 
racter, intended to fit youths for commercial or non-literary 
pursuits, (p. 221) 

This recommendation was accepted and alternative examina- 
tions came to be organised in every province. But the experience 
was not encouraging. Taking India as a whole, we find that in 
1901-2, no less than 23,000 candidates appeared for the Matricu- 
lation examination; but the total number of candidates appearing 
for all the other alternative examinations was only about 2,000 of 
which about 1,200 belonged to Bombay Province (where many 
candidates took both the examinations). It is quite evident, there- 
fore, that the alternative courses did not become popular and that 
the Matriculation examination dominated the field of secondary 
education almost as exclusively in 1902 as it did in 1882. 

In 1902, therefore, the system of secondary education in India 
presented a strange mixture of good and evil. On the one hand, 
there had been considerable expansion— particularly of Indian en- 
terprise. On the other hand, there was a good deal of inefficiency 
and there were serious defects such as the lack of vocational edu- 
cation and the use of English as a medium of instruction. The 
similarity between this picture and that of collegiate education in 
1901-2 is too close to need comments and led to precisely similar 
controversies in the early years of the twentieth century. The 
history of these later developments, however, will be dealt with in 
Chapter yil. 

Effects of the New Education (1854-1902): We have so far briefly 
traced the history of the development of university and secondary 
education in India between 1855 and 1902. The most distinctive 
achievement of the British educationists in India was the creation 
of this new system of education whose object was to spread 
Western literature and science and which adopted English as a 
medium of instruction at all stages except the lower secondary, 
where it was taught as a subject. It was through the portals of 
this educational system that the Indian mind made its first acquain- 
tance with the West and it is this educational system that is 
mainly, if not exclusively, responsible for the modem renaissance 





in all walks of Indian life. 

One of the most important results of the new education was 
the birth of a new literature and press in the modern Indian lan- 
guages. As stated already, the pioneer work in this direction 
was done by the missionaries. It was they who started the first 
printing press in India and established the first newspaper. 
They studied the modern Indian languages, compiled dictionaries, 
wrote their grammars, and translated the Bible into them. But 
they never intended to build up a literature in modern Indian 
languages. Their two main objects were (a) to create aids for 
the study of these languages by European missionaries, and (b) 
to translate the Bible and allied literature into them. As soon 
as both these objectives were realised, they had no further in- 
centive to attempt the creation of a new literature for the people. 
The officials of the Company and, later on, the Education De- 
partments took up this work and although they came into the 
field after the missionaries, they did a far greater and more valu- 
able service to the cause. It was under this official patronage 
that the first attempts to write and publish books of a secular 
character in modern Indian languages were made. In keeping 
with the aims of the new educational system, the earliest books 
published were translations of well-known English books or 
treatises on subjects like history, algebra, geometry, etc., that 
were being taught in the new system of schools. Prior to 1854, 
it was the Committees, Boards, or Councils which were in charge 
of education or the special School Book societies organised 
for the purpose that prepared and published new books in modern 
Indian languages and received aid from the Company to do so. 
After 1855, the work was continued, on a larger scale than before, 
by Government Book-depots that came to be organised under 
the Education Departments. A little later, private Indian 
enterprise came into the field. Some of the men educated in the 
new system of education felt that books of the type that are found 
in the English language ought also to be available in modern 
Indian languages. They, therefore, formed societies for creating 
such literature in the modern Indian languages or wrote and 
published books in their individual capacity. They also con- 
ducted newspapers with the main object of spreading Western 
knowledge and bringing about social reforms. As this 

non-official agency began to . develop, the work of Government 
Book-depots came to be gradually restricted to the preparation and 
publication of text-books for schools, and the task of producing 
a new genuine literature in modern Indian languages and of 
building up an Indian press was almost exclusively taken up by 
enthusiastic and nationally minded individuals educated in the 
new system of secondary schools and colleges. They did their 
task admirably well, especially in view of the almost complete 
neglect of the study of these languages in the new educational 
institutions and by 1902, all the important modern languages 
of India had evolved a fair amount of new literature and the 
Indian press had developed to a fairly high degree of 

In social and religio us mat ters also, the new education was 
creating valuable changes. The early hopes that Indians educated 
in Western knowledge would espouse Christianity in large num- 
bers were soon proved to be wrong; but the new edu<?atiou did 
lead to the creation ofji movement whose object was to refo rm 
Indian society. This was particularly noticeable within the 
Hindu fold because it was the Hindu society tha^ 
reform and it was the Hindus that came most laxgcly under the 
influence of the new education. Within the Hindu community, 
therefore, we find m ovem ents f or th e liq.n^ 
system; for *^the~acceptance of widow-remarriage and divorce 
among the higher castes; for raising the ages of marriage and 
consent; for the removal of dietary restrictions based on caste; 
for the abolition of untouchability; and for the amelioration of 
the economic condition of the Harijans. Moreo ver, there also 
arose strong movements for religi ous refo rm. Among these, 
referencefias already been made to the work of Raja Ra m 
M ohan Roy , and the founding of the Brahmo Samaj. Far more 
powerful than this was the movement of the Ary a S amaj 
founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. The object of this 
reform was to rejuvenate the Hindu society on the pattern of the 
Vedic Aryan culture. There was to be no caste-system and all 
persons belonging to the new sect were to be elevated to the status 
of Aryans and were to enjoy equal social and religious privileges. 
This was a movement which aimed at welding the whole of 
the Hindu society into a powerful and homogeneous mass and 



spread largely in the Punjab and U.P. The Ramakrishna 
Mission, started in Bengal in 1897 under the leadership of Swami 
Vivekanand, was another reformist movement of great im- 
portance. A detailed study of the socio-religious history of this 
period is obviously beyond the scope of this book; but what 
has already been said above is enough to indicate the various 
waves of social and religious reform that arose out of the new 
system of education. 

Even greater was the effect of the new education on the 
poli tical life o f ^the country. In the early years of the new 
educational system, the attention of educated individuals was 
drawn most to social reforms. This was partly because social work 
was really urgent and partly because it did not encounter any 
opposition from Government. A large majority of the educated 
men of this period were servants of Government and they found 
it more convenient to undertake programmes of social reform 
than to organise political agitation as such. Social and^religious 
reform, therefore, became the principal channel throughwhich 
the educated intelligentsia tried to serve the country. Uut very 
soon, a band of younger men began to come up who felt that mere 
social and religious work can never solve the problems before the 
country and „ that the only way to bring about a regeneration of 
India was through a political control of Government. This rising 
group of men could not see eye-to-eye with several official policies 
and openly criticised them in no equivocal manner. They had no 
illusions about the blessings of British Rule and although they ad- 
mitted the several good things that Britain had done for India, 
they could not ignore the growing poverty of the people and the 
economic exploitation of their country under British Imperialism. 
They, therefore, raised a voice of protest against the superior airs 
or chill courtesies of reserve which Englishmen assumed in their 
dealings with Indians; the exclusive British monopoly of all higher 
posts under Government; the economic drain on the country; the 
growing poverty among the people; the failure to develop the ind- 
ustrial resources of the nation; the slow development of education 
— primary and higher; and such other ills. It is out of these 
protests that a political agitation slowly grew up in course of time 
and led to the establishment of the Indian National Congress 

* -t m m ' "" ' - j.j'wr"*- 

in 1855. 


It is often asserted that this political agitation was a 
exclusive result of the modern system of education. This is going 
a bit too far and" ignoring the laws of history. No nation can 
c ontinue to govern another for a long time without creating ^ oppo- 
sition and discontent. Hence, even lFlKe^Wffisfi people had 
made^^ttempTtb educate Indians, a political agitation against 
British Rule was bound to start, sooner or latei*. But having 
stressed the view that the political agitation in India could have 
originated even in the absence of the new system of education, it 
cannot be gainsaid that this agitation was strengthened materially 
by the new education. Men and women who had read English 
h istory cou ld not but be inspired by the ideals of democracy and 
self-rule and they bfggn to plead that India was for Indians and 
tfiatg^ assuming that it did exist, was no 

suEititute for self-government. It was the new system of ed uca- 
tion, therefore, that gave educated Indians an insight into Wes- 
tern political life, created or strengthened Their love of liberty and 
showed them the way in which to organise a fight against their 
foreign rulers. 

Another great achievement of this period was the change brought 
about in the Western attitude to Eastern religion , philosophy and 
literature . Prior to 1813, the average Englishman believed, on 
the basis of missionary propaganda, that all Eastern religions 
were false and that all literatures in the Eastern classical languages 
were utterly useless — an attitude that is so typically expressed by 
Charles Grant. More or less the same view continued to be held 
till 1854 as the Minutes of Macaulay, Bentinck and Auckland will 
show. It is true that there was a rival view in the field held by 
such eminent persons as Warren Hastings, Minto, Wilson, Prinsep 
and other orientalists who believed that Eastern philosophy, reli- 
gion and literature deserved a careful study. But they were a 
small minority. Macaulay would have eliminated them altogether; 
but could not. Auckland continued them no sufferance in a 
limited field, but at least left them in peace; and the Despatch of 
1854 grudgingly admitted that some advantages do spring from a 
study of Eastern classical languages. It admitted, for instance, 
that a study of these languages did have a place on historical, 
antiquarian or legal grounds* But all the same, it still believed 
that “the system of science and philosophy which forms the 




learning of the East abounds with grave errors”. This hostile 
attitude, however, began to give way soon after 1854. 

An epoch-making event in the new movement was the 
publication, in 1801-2, of a French translation of the Upanishads. 
This had been prepared by a French scholar, A. Duperron, from 
a Persian translation of the Upanishads prepared by Prince 
Dara Shikoh, the eldest brother of Aurangzeb. It fell into the 
hands of Schopenhauer, the great German philosopher, who was 
deeply stirred by it and with him begins the influence of Eastern 
philosophy on the West — a movement which gathered strength 
with the passage of years and which has, if anything, become 
stronger at present than ever in the past. Above this very time 
another great Sanskrit scholar, Sri William Jones, was translating 
Sanskrit works into English and popularising them. His trans- 
lation of Kalidas’s Shakuntala was a masterpiece of literary art. 
He also laid the foundation of comparative philology. But by 
far the greatest service in popularising the Eastern classical 
languages was done by the greatest of all Orientalists of the nine- 
teenth century. Max Muller. His great work was the translation 
of the Vedas — a task at which he laboured for thirty years in spite 
of poverty and neglect. The work of these and other western 
scholars who followed them was soon greatly strengthened by the 
newly created Indian universities. Although these bodies neglect- 
ed the modern Indian languages they gave every encouragement 
to the classical ones. Consequently, a critical and scientific study 
of the classical languages became a distinct feature of collegiate 
in the Victorian Era. It led to a better appreciation of 
- ancient culture, removed the misconceptions about ancient 
history and religion which had been made common in the earlier 
period by ignorant official or missionaries, and created an Indian 
band of Oriental scholars among whom may be mentioned the 
names of Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar, Dr. Rajendralal Mitra, K. T. 
Telang and others. These pioneers carried the torch still further 
and, if English education was trying to interpret the West to the 
East, these orientalists were trying to interpret the East, not only 
to the West, but to the East itself in a light and context that had 
not been known before. It is, therefore, the work of these 
oriental scholars in Indian universities that was gradually bring- 
ing about a synthesis of Eastern and Western cultures. The 


orthodox Hindu or Muslim who refused to learn anything of the 
West was no longer in the forefront; in the same way, the 
missionary who wanted to substitute Eastern culture by the 
Western was also relegated to a subordinate position. And the 
new Indian Universities which taught English and the classical 
languages together were creating a generation in whom the 
synthesis of both the cultures had begun to take place. The 
emphasis was still on the West no doubt; but the East had no 
longer to wait outside as an untouchable — she was admitted 
straight into the innermost shrine. 

With the achievement of this synthesis, some of the evils of the 
new education began to disappear. In the early years of the new 
education, the attempt to westernise the content dominated 
exclusively. Consequently, the students were generally unable to 
digest the new exotic culture and showed signs of a deep cultural 
unsettling. They blindly imitated Englishmen in dress, manners, 
and outward social behaviour; they drank wine and ate beef 
rather proudly in the belief that they were copying Western 
virtues; they thought it beneath their dignity to talk or write in 
an Indian language and used English as often as possible; and 
most of all, they developed a contempt for all Eastern or ancient 
ideas. Some of them became converts to Christianity; several 
more became atheists or agnostics; and some joined the Brahmo 
or Prarthana Samajes. It was this erratic behaviour of the early 
educated youths that frightened many an orthodox parent and 
hindered the progress of the new system of education. But as 
the emphasis on westernisation decreased, as Eastern culture came 
to be better appreciated, and as a synthesis of the two cultures 
began to be worked out to an ever-increasing extent, the cultural 
disturbances of the new educational system became less and less 
pronounced. It is true that the new education freed the Indian 
mind from the thraldom of old-world ideas; but it now began to 
be more evident that all that is new is not good, nor all that is 
old is bad. Discrimination began to be exercised and while 
absorbing several new ideas from the West, an attempt began to 
be made to preserve all that is good in the East as well. It is 
out of this synthesis that the new leadership in Indian national 
life was born in this period - a leadership included such great 
names as those of Pandit Ishwarcbandra Vidyasagar, Keshub 



Chandra Sen, Swami Vivekananda, Justice M. G. Ranade, Pandit 
Madan Mohan Malaviya, Dadabhai Naoroji, Sir Syed Ahmed 
Khan and others. 

Turning to the other side of the shield, we find that the main 
defects of this new education were two: In the first place, it was 
not intended to contribute and did not contribute to the economic 
and industrial development of India. Secondly, it was restricted 
to a small precentage of the population only. The paucity of 
funds and the adoption of English as the medium of instruction 
implied that this education could never be given to the masses. 
It, therefore, led to the creation of a new class or small intelligent* 
sia, that did not have much in common with the masses. More- 
over, this new class was urban in character, partly because the 
secondary schools and colleges were all located in towns and partly 
because the nature of their subsequent employment compelled 
most educated men to live in towns only. Thirdly, it consisted 
mostly of persons drawn from the upper castes or the well-to-do 
classes of society. In other words, the new system of education 
led to the division of the Indian society into two distinct groups — 
a small minority of highly educated men and women, an educa- 
ted aristocracy which was distinctly urban and upper-class in charac- 
ter, and a large majority of almost illiterate people who lived 
in rural areas and belonged to the lower castes. It is out of this 
schism that most of the evils of modern Indian education arose 
and, unfortunately, the schism still remains unbridged. 

Primary Education (1854-1902): The history of primary educa- 
tion during this period can be conveniently studied under four 
heads: (a) the Despatch of 1859, (6) events of the period 1859-82, 
(c) recommendations of the Indian Education Commission (1882- 
83) and ( d ) events of the period 1882-1902. 

Despatch of 1859: The Despatch of 1854 had recommended, 
to) that the indigenous schools should be incorporated in the official 
system of education, ( b ) t aat larger amounts should be spent on 
primary education, and (<•) that a system of grants-in-aid should 
be evolved for private primary schools on which alone should 
Government mainly rely for the spread of education among the 
masses. But as early as 1859, another Despatch reversed these 


■‘■V r 

orders, directed that local rates should be levied for educational 
purposes, and observed that the Department should rely mainly 
on Government schools for the spread of mass education. It said: 

On the whole, Her Majesty’s Government can entertain 
little doubt that the grant-in-aid system, as hitherto in force , 
is unsuited to the supply of Vernacular Education to the masses 
of the population ; and it appears to them, so far as they have been 
able to form an opinion, that the means of elementary education 
should be provided by the direct instrumentality of the officers of 
Government, according to some one of the plans in operation in 
Bengal and the North-Western Provinces, or by such modi- 
fication of those schemes as may commend itself to the several 
local Governments as best suited to the circumstances of differ- 
ent localities. . . . 

As regards the source from which the funds for Elementary 
Education should be obtained, it has been on different occa- 
sions proposed by officers connected with Education that, in 
order to avoid the difficulties experienced in obtaining voluntary 
local support, an Education Rate should be imposed, from 
which the cost of all schools throughout the country should be 
defrayed. And other officers who have considered India to be 
as yet unprepared for such a measure, have regarded other 
arrangements as merely temporary and palliative, and the levy 
of a compulsory rate as the only really effective step to be taken 
for permanently supplying the deficiency. 1 

Perhaps the explanation of these recommendations of the 
Despatches of 1854 and 1 859 which generally contradict each other 
on the subject of elementary education, and the subsequent con- 
troversies that raged round them till about 1870, may be traced 
to the contemporary controversies in England. At this time, 
elementary education in England was mostly provided by deno- 
minational schools supported, to a certain extent, by Parliamentary 
grants. But opinion was keenly divided regarding the future of 
elementary education. One section held the view that voluntary 
effort — which meant mostly the denominational schools — was the 
best agency for the spread of elementary education, and that 
1 Paras. 50-52. 


Parliament should do no more than give financial assistance to 
voluntary schools. This section opposed all attempts to introduce a 
State system of education because of the fear that, in State schools, 
there would bs no freedom to the various sects to teach the prin- 
ciples of their religion. On the other hand, the opposite section 
held the view that the system of voluntary schools was defective; 
that the voluntary agencies were hiding fundamental defects under 
a show of activity; that the voluntary schools had not succeeded 
in bringing all children into schools; and that universal education 
could not be realised with the help of a voluntary agency alone. 
This section recommended the imposition of local taxes for educa- 
tion and the establishment of a system of public schools maintain- 
ed and controlled by ad hoc bodies consisting of the representa- 
tives of the people. The controversy between these two sections 
of public opinion dominated the field of elementary education in 
England between the years 1846 and 1870 and was only partially 
closed by the Education Act of 1870 which empowered Govern- 
ment, under certain conditions to establish School Boards with 
powers to levy local taxes for the establishment and maintenance 
of public schools and to compel attendance of children between 5 
and 13 years of age. 

It was inevitable that the effects of this controversy should be 
felt on Indian educational policy also; and one is driven to the 
conclusion that the recommendations of the Despatch of 1859 as 
well as those of 1854 were more a result of the controversies in 
England than of the experience gained in India or of a careful 
study of what was best suited to Indian conditions. 

Events of the Period 1859-82: This Despatch naturally led to 
some controversies in India where opinion had not yet crystallised. 
While some preferred to abide by the recommedations of 1854, 
others chose to follow the lead given by the Despatch of 1859. 
The conflict of opinion centred mainly round three points: the 
attitude to indigenous schools; the levy of local taxes; and the 
claims of primary education to receive a grant-in-aid from 
Government Revenues. It is not necessary here to go into the 
protracted discussions that followed, especially as no common 
conclusion was arrived at and as each Province was allowed to 
develop on its own lines. But the following narrative of the main 


events of the period between the Despatch of 1849 and the 
appointment of the Indian Education Commission in 1882 will 
assist materially in understanding the raison d'etre of the recoin* 
mendations of the Commission. 

(a) Indigenous Schools: The Despatch of 1859 led to a keen 
dispute regarding the agency to be adopted for the spread of 
primary education. Some argued that the agency of the indigen- 
ous schools should be adopted in toto but that Government may, 
if necessary, maintain only a few schools as model institutions. 
Others argued that elementary education should be spread as 
widely as possible through schools directly controlled by Govern- 
ment. There were also some who preferred a compromise bet- 
ween these extreme viewpoints. Ultimately, however, each 
Province was allowed to develop on its own lines. The following 
account of Provincial developments will show how the indigenous 
schools fared in each province during the period under review. 

(i) Madras: The duty of diffusing primary education among 
the masses was neglected by Government until 1868. In that year. 
Government revised its educational code and introduced the 
system of payment by results for primary schools. The policy 
adopted in Madras was to rely mainly on private effort and to 
open departmental schools only when private effort was not 
forthcoming. In 1881-82, there were only 1,263 departmental schools 
(with 46,975 pupils) as against 13,223 aided schools (with 3,13,668 
pupils). Besides, the number of unaided indigenous schools 
known to the Department was stated to be 2,828 with 54,064 pupils. 

{ii) Bombay: In Bombay, the Education Department relied 
almost exclusively on its own schools for the spread of primary 
education and hence the indigenous schools were neglected from 
the beginning. Prior to 1840, hardly any attempt had been made 
to assist indigenous schools. In that year, Mr. Peile, the then 
Director of Public Instruction, framed a special set of rules for 
assisting indigenous schools; but the extent of the assistance 
actually afforded may be gauged from the fact that even in 
1881-82, only 73 indigenous schools were in receipt of aid although 
the Department was aware of the existence of as many as 3,954 
indigenous schools which gave education to 78,205 pupils. 1 It 
may also be noted that the Education Commission came to the 
1 Report of the Indian Education Commission, p. 67. 



conclusion that the Bombay Education Department had followed 
a policy of deliberate inactivity with regard to the practical 
encouragement of aided schools. 

(iii) Bengal : In Bengal, on the other hand, the system of 
primary education had been entirely built up on the indigenous 
schools. The following statistics of 1881-82 speak for them- 

1. Number of Departmental Schools 28 

2 . Number of pupils in Departmental Schools 916 

3. Number of Aided Schools 47,374 

4. Number of pupils in Aided Schools 835,435 

5. Number of Unaided Indigenous Schools 

known to the Department 3,265 

6. Number of pupils in the above 49,238 

7. Number of Unaided but Inspected Schools 4,376 

8. Number of pupils in the above 62,038 

The one defect of the system, however, was the small amount 
of aid afforded. In 1881-82, this was only Rs. 11 a year per 

The history of the indigenous schools in these three Provinces 
has been given in detail because the other Provinces followed one 
or other of these models with slight variations. As in Bombay, 
the North-Western Province also relied mainly on the Halkabandi 
schools, which have been already described, and did not make any 
attempts to incorporate the indigenous schools. In 1881-82, an 
enquiry revealed that there were as many as 6,712 unaided indi- 
genous schools in the Province with 61,634 pupils; but the 
number of aided primary schools in that year was only 243 with 
15,109 pupils. Coorg also followed Bombay and supplied primary 
schools through the direct agency of the Department without 
making any effort to stimulate private enterprise or to incorporate 
the indigenous schools in its educational organisation. The Punjab 
followed the model of the North-Western Province. In 1881-82, 
the number of aided primary schools in the Punjab was only 278 
with 14,616 pupils whereas an enquiry showed that there were 
as many as 13,109 indigenous schools in the Provinces with 
135,384 pupils. The Central Provinces followed Bengal and 


actively encouraged indigenous schools. But there was no strong 
system of indigenous schools in the Province and hence it had 
to open a large number of departmental schools. In 1881-82, 
the Province had 894 departmental schools with 55,745 pupils 
and 368 aided schools with 18,786 pupils. Berar followed the 
same policy as in Bombay and generally relied on departmental 
schools; but it made greater attempts to encourage indigenous 
schools. In 1881-82, it had 467 departmental schools with 27,844 
pupils, 209 aided schools with 4,212 pupils and 207 unaided 
schools with 2,672 pupils. Assam was a part of Bengal till 1874 
and hence its primary system was also built up on the basis of 
indigenous schools. In 1881-82, there were in Assam only 7 
Government schools with. 187 pupils, 1,256 aided schools with 
35,643 pupils and 497 indigenous schools with 9,733 pupils. 

( b ) Finance: We now turn to the next point of conflict, viz., 
the ways and means in which primary education was financed. 

The Despatch of 1859 had suggested that local rates should be 
imposed to meet the cost of mass education. This idea was 
slightly modified by the Government of India which was of 
opinion that local rates should be imposed, not only for education 
but for all objects of local utility. Accordingly, local rates were 
generally imposed in all provinces to meet several objects of local 
expenditure including education. In rural areas, the land revenue 
supplied a very good basis for the assessment of local rates, and 
consequently, the local taxes in rural areas took the form of a 
cess on land revenue, except in Bengal where the existence of the 
permanent land revenue settlement introduced by Lord Cornwallis 
presented an obstacle. In town areas, the usual form of a local 
rate was a tax on houses and this was imposed and collected 
through municipalities which came to be established in all pro- 
vinces during this period. The cess on land revenue was generally 
intended for roads and education, while the municipalities were 
entrusted with several duties which included even a payment for 
the police force. 

The work of imposing local rates for education was carried out 
in all provinces except Bengal in the decade 1861-71. Reference 
had already been made to the 1 per cent cess on land revenue 
collected in the North-Western Province for educational purposes. 
The Punjab was the next to follow this example. It levied a cess 

216 A students’ history OF EDUGATION IN INDIA 

of 1 per cent on iand revenue as early as 1856-57 although at 
that time it was levied in all places. The levy of the cess was 
made general in 1864. The Province of Oudh imposed a cess of 
2§ per cent on land revenue in 1861 and earmarked 1 per cent 
out of it for education. The Central Provinces followed the 
example of the North-Western Province and levied the cess at 

1 per cent in 1862-63. Two years later, the cess was raised to 

2 per cent as the amount realised from the 1 per cent cess was 
not adequate to meet the requirements. Bombay introduced a 
cess of 1 anna on every rupee of land revenue (6£ per cent) in 
1863 and generalised its levy by the Bombay Local Funds Act 
of 1869. One-third of the cess was earmarked for education. A 
similar local fund cess was imposed in Sind in 1865. But only 
half of it was given to ail local purposes and the other half was 
retained by Government as a set-off against expenditure incurred 
by it for local purposes such as canal clearances, public buildings, 
etc. Berar imposed a local fund cess of per cent and ear- 
marked one-fifth of it for education. Madras passed a Local 
Funds Act in 1871 and imposed a cess at a rate not exceeding 
1 anna on land revenue but did not prescribe any definite propor- 
tion of it to be paid to education. A local cess was introduced 
in Assam in 1879 but in Bengal, no cess on land revenue was 
imposed even up to 1882. 

The levy of these local fund cesses was very warmly welcomed 
by, the Education Departments. The demands for educational 
^institutions was growing rapidly and the expenditure on education 
Jwasf minting. in those days, all additional expenditure had to 
by the Government of India, and it was, therefore, 
4 ex^ to obtain additional allotment for education. 

' u Xt tms ^Jffilr^^Tivy of the local fund cess came as a great 

* ^ i AliruiK£bipal Acts of the various provinces 

^^did^iio^ ^i^e ^ ^3ttc m cause of the failure 
being the absence of any statutory provision to the effect that a 
^TCranMie"^ IBcdfiWr '* must be spent 

^ 'u£oro 1 Tfci£ f t^ to incur 

6W edttfcatMf blit *dfd j do so. 

tionslo eaucatitfA q W. 1 j Mb v? 11 Was* The 


attention which municipalities paid to education generally can be 
seen from the following statistics 1 given by the Indian Education 

Province Percentage of expenditure 

on education to the total 
income of Municipalities 







North-Western Province and Oudh 




Central Provinces 






In contrast with the above figures, most of the new schools that 
were being established came to be located in towns because it 
was to these places that public awakening was then confined. As 
the municipalities did not make adequate contributions to edu- 
cation, the money to support these schools mostly came, not from 
the taxes raised in the area of the towns, but from local cesses 
raised in villages. This evil was particularly felt in Bombay. 

Several intricate problems were connected with the levy and the 
administration of these local funds for education — both District 
and Municipal. It will be beyond the scope of this book to go 
into them in detail. But the following analysis of the system of 
financing primary education, as it then prevailed, will be helpful 
to understand the recommendations of the Indian Education 

, (i) In Bombay and Madras, the local fund cess was entirely at 
the disposal of the local boards for expenditure on objects within 
their purview. But in the Provinces of Northern India, the local 
funds were also subject to certain deducations on account of 
works for extension of irrigation or prevention of famine. 

(fi) In Bombay and Madras, the income from the local fund 
cess was regarded as a fund— distinct from the revenue of the 
Provincial Government. Hence, if any unspent balances remained 
^Report, p. 158. 





in any year, they could be utilised by the Boards in subsequent 
years. But in the Provinces of. Northern India, the local fund 
was looked upon as Government revenue placed at the disposal 
of the boards for local expenditure. Henpe, if any amount re- 
mained unspent during any year, it lapsed to the Provincial 

(iii) In Bombay, there was a District Educational Fund in each 
district, consisting of Government grant, one-third part of the 
local fund income, contributions of municipalities within the dis- 
trict, etc. This was a very advantageous system which ensured 
that all sums allocated to education should be spent on education 
only. Under this system, unspent balances of any year were 
available for expenditure on educational objects only within the 
sphere of local boards. 

(iv) In Bombay, a definite proportion of the local fund cess, 
viz., one-third, was assigned for education. But in Madras it was 
not so assigned with the result that education got a much smaller 
part of the local fund income that it ought to have had. 

(v) The object to which the local funds were to be applied was 
also a disputed point. Some argued that it could and should be 
applied to higher education. Others held the view that the elemen- 
tary education of the masses had the first claim upon the local 

(v/) The unit of area which should be considered fit to be en- 
trusted with the management of primary education was also a 
point in dispute. Some argued that a small unit secures perfect 
local knowledge and interest and conduces to efficiency. Others 
preferred a bigger unit such as a district. The practice in the 
several provinces was not uniform and in 1882, the question was 
still open. 

(vz7) Perhaps the most disputed point referred to the grant 
which was payable by Government in support of local funds 
devoted to education. One view maintained that the local fund 
cess was just like contributions from the people and was conse- 
quently entitled to receive a grant-in-aid from Government. The 
other view held that the local fund cess was really a tax and 
hence had no claims to receive a grant-in aid from Government. 
The orders of the Government of India itself were conflicting. Oh 

some occasions the view had been held that the education of the 
masses had a claim on Government revenues because the Despatch 
of 1854 had laid down that the attempts of Government should 
be directed to the education of the great mass of the people who 
were utterly incapable of obtaining any education worthy of the 
name by their own unaided efforts. On other occasions, the view 
had been held that “the State had never undertaken to provide 
for the education of the people 55 , 1 and that the education of the 
masses must be supported by local funds. But finally in 1871, it 
was laid down that Government grant to local funds was not to 
exceed one-third of the total expenditure. 

(c) Training of Teachers : The Despatch of 1859 observed that 
“the institution of training schools does not seem to have been 
carried out to the extent contemplated by the Court of Directors*’. 
This admonition from the Secretary of State naturally led to a 
quickening of effort in favour of the training of teacher and by 
1882, each province had established several training institutions 
for primary teachers. 

Taking India as a whole there were in 1881-82, 106, Normal 
schools with an enrolment of 3,886 primary teachers, maintained 
at a total cost of about Rs. 4 lakhs. 

(d) Expansion: Expansion of primary education depends on 
two factors— the extent of the funds provided and the cost of the 
agency employed. The foregoing survey of events has shown that 
the educational systems of the several provinces of India varied 
considerably in both the matters, and consequently, expansion of 
primary education also showed great variation. In Bengal, for 
instance, the local fund cess had not been imposed: but a large 
Government grant coupled with the adoption of the agency of 
indigenous schools helped the Province to achieve considerable 
expansion. In Bombay, on the other hand, the funds available 
for education were the largest; but owing to an almost exclusive 
reliance on the costlier agency of departmental schools the expan- 
sion was not so great as it might otherwise have been. In the 
Punjab, the agency of departmental schools was adopted although 
the funds were limited. Consequently, the expansion of primary 
education was much less than in either of the two provinces men- 

1 Letter from Government of India to Government of Bengal, No. 5876 of 
28-10-1867, para. 5. 




tioned above. The following extract from the report of the Com- 
mission gives a good picture of the situation. The extreme edu- 
cational backwardness of India at that time will be realised all the 
more if it is remembered that the percentages given in the extract 
are calculated on the 26,43,978 pupils in all educational institut- 
ions and not on the 20,61,541 pupils in primary schools only: 

In the area to which our enquiries are confined, containing 
859,844 square miles, with 552,379 villages and towns, inhabited 
by 202,604,080 persons, there were only 112,218 schools and 
2,643,978 Indian children or adults at school in 1881-82. The 
proportion of pupils both male and female, to the population 
of school-going age, calculated in accordance with the principles 
described in Chapter II, 1 is shown below: 


Percentage of 

Percentage of 




J British Districts 



Bombay * Native States 



Bengal ^ 



North-Western Provinces & Oudh 






Central Provinces 









Hyderabad Assigned Districts 



Total for India 



These figures exclude the attendance in schools for Europeans 
and Eurasians, and in unattached institutions for professional 
or technical education, they include that in all other institutions 
known to the Department in 1881-82. The most advanced 
Province of India still fails to reach 75 per cent of its male 
children of the school-going age and 98 per cent of its female 
children of that age; while in one province, with its total popu- 
lation of both sexes exceeding 44 millions, nearly 92 boys in 
1 At 15 per cent of the population. 


every hundred are growing up in ignorance, and female educa- 
tion has hardly begun to make any progress. The census returns 
are equally conclusive in showing the magnitude of the work 
that remains before education in India can be placed upon a 
national basis. Taking the male population of Ajmer and of 
the nine provinces with which our Report deals, which exceeds 
103 millions, about 94£ millions are wholly illiterate; while of 
the female population, numbering about 99,700,000 no less 
than 99J millions are returned as unable to read or write. 1 

The Indian Education Commission: In view of the slow progress 
of primary education in the period from 1854 to 1882, it was but 
natural that Government should direct the Indian Education 
Commission to pay special attention to the subject of primary 
education. Consequently, the subject of primary education 
figures prominently in the Report of the Indian Education Com- 
mission and some of its most important recommendations refer to 
the spread of elementary education among the people. They can 
be conveniently under the following six heads: 

(a) Policy; 

( b ) Legislation and adminstration; 

(c) Encouragement of indigenous schools; 

(d) School administration; 

(e) Training of Teachers; and 
(/) Finance. 

(a) Policy. Regarding the policy of Government towards 
primary education, the Commission recommended: 

(i) That primary education be regarded as the instruction of 
the masses through the vernacular in such subjects as will fit 
them for their position in life, and be not necessarily regarded 
as a portion of instruction leading up to the university. 

(ft) That while every branch of education can justly claim 
the fostering care of the State, it is desirable, in the present 
circumstances of the country, to declare the elementary educa- 
tion of the masses, its provision, extension, and improvement, 
^Report, p. 584. 

222 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

to be that part of the educational system to which the strenuous 
efforts of the State should now be directed in a still larger 
measure than heretofore. 

{iii) That the principle laid down in Lord Hardinge’s 
Resolution dated 11th October 1844, be reaffirmed, i.e ., that 
in selecting persons to fill the lowest offices under Government 
preference be always given to candidates who can read and 

(/v) That primary education be extended in backward districts, 
especially in those inhabited mainly by aboriginal races, by the 
instrumentality of the Department pending the creation of 
school-boards, or by specially liberal grants-in-aid to those who 
are willing to set up and maintain schools. 

(b) Legislation and Administration : Following the method 

adopted in England where, under the Education Acts of 1870 and 
1876, the whole country was divided into a large number of 
school-districts for each of which a local committee with powers 
to levy taxes, to provide schools, and to compel attendance of 
children of a given age, had been established, the Indian 
Education Commission recommended that the control of primary 
education should be made over to District and Municipal Boards. 

(c) Encouragement of Indigenous Schools: On the subject of 
indigenous schools, the Commission was of opinion that schools 
deserved encouragement and incorporation in the official system 
of education. It observed: 

Admitting, however, the comparative inferiority of indigenous 
institutions, we consider that efforts should now be made to 
encourage them. They have survived a severe competition, and 
have thus proved that they possess both vitality and popularity. 
Numerous examples furnished by the history of education in 
Madras, as well as in Bengal, prove the possibility of adopting 
the indigenous system to modern requirements, and while the 
schools of Bombay will supply a valuable model, the indigenous 
schools, if recognised and assisted as we shall presently pro- 
pose, may be expected to improve their method and fill a 
useful position in the State system of national education. 1 
1 Report i p. 68. 


The Commission held the view that the District and Municipal 
Boards consisting of Indians would be more sympathetic to the 
indigenous schools than the Education Department, and recom- 
mended that the Work of assisting indigenous schools should be 
assigned to them. This was a move in the right direction; but 
it was counter-balanced by the recommendation of the Commission 
that a system of Payment by Results should be adopted in dealing 
with indigenous schools. This was not a happy recommendation. 
A better system would have been that of 'capitation grants’ — a 
system that has always led to quick expansion and is invaluable 
when the main objective of the policy is a rapid advance to uni- 
versal education. But the Commission could not see its way to 
adopt in India. We have already seen that the Commission 
recommended that the system of payment by results should be 
abandoned in so far as collegiate education was concerned. We 
have also seen that the Commission did not advise either the 
complete acceptance or the complete rejection of the system in so 
far as grants to secondary schools were concerned. But the Com- 
mission was definitely of the opinion that the system of payment 
by results was the best method of assisting indigenous schools and 
recommended its universal adoption. This unhappy decision led 
to the domination of the system in all the provincial rules of 
grant-in-aid to primary schools till a new lead was given by Lord 
Curzon in the early years of this century. 

Lastly, the Commission suggested that an attempt should be 
made to improve the teaching in* indigenous schools, gradually 
and steadily, and with this end in view, made the following 

(0 that a steady and gradual improvement ' of indigenous 
schools be aimed at, with as little immediate interference with 
their personnel or curriculum as possible; 

(iii) that special encouragement be afforded to indigenous 
schoolmasters to undergo training, and to bring their relatives 
and probable successors under regular training; 

(iff) that the standards of examination be arranged to suit each 
province, with the view of preserving all that is valued by the 
people in the indigenous system, and of encouraging by special 
grants the gradual introduction of useful subjects of instruction. 

224 A students' history of education IN INDIA 

(d) School Administration : On the subject of the internal 
management of primary schools the Commission recommended 
that there should be no attempt to achieve uniformity of stand* 
ards in all the Provinces; that the instruction in primary schools 
should be adapted to the environment and should be simplified 
wherever possible; that practical subjects, such as Indian methods 
of arithmetic and accounts should be introduced; that managers 
should be free to choose the text-books for their schools; that the 
utmost elasticity should be permitted regarding hours of the day 
and the seasons of the year during which the schools are to remain* 
open; that instruction should be through the mother-tongue of 
the children and that primary schools should be inspected 
in situ . 

(e) Finance : On the most important subject of Finance the 
Commission made several recommendations which finally closed 
the controversies of the earlier period. For instance, the Com- 
mission recommended that a specific fund should be created for 
primary education; that the accounts of the primary education 
fund in municipal areas should be separated from those for the 
rural areas in order to avoid the expenditure in municipal areas 
of money meant for the villages. It also laid down that the 
local funds should be utilised mainly for primary education and 
only incidentally— if at all — for secondary and collegiate educa- 
tion. Finally, it observed that it was the duty of Government to 
assist the local funds by a suitable system of grant-in-aid. But 
the Commission, unfortunately, refused to make concrete recom- 
mendations regarding the extent of such grant-in-aid. and merely 
observed that the local funds had “a large claim on provincial 
revenues". The vagueness of this recommendation was justified 
by the Commission on two grounds: firstly . it was argued that 
conditions varied so greatly from province to province that it was 
impossible to lay down any hard and fast rule. For instance. 
Government to primary education in Bengal, where no cess had 
been imposed, must naturally be assessed on different principles 
from the grant in Bombay where a very large revenue could be 
obtained by the local cesses. Secondly , the Commission thought 
that it was not called upon to consider the financial aspects of 
its proposals. Nevertheless, the general trend of the opinion of 
the Commission may be started briefly as under: 

the Victorian era 225 

(/) The main responsibility for the spread of primary educa- 
tion rests upon the local funds and the provincial Government 
plays only a subordinate role by giving suitable grant-in-aid 
to local funds. * 

(ii) Local funds, even when raised by legislative sanction, 
are really equivalent to funds raised by the people themselves 
and are, therefore, entitled to claim a grant-in-aid from 

(Hi) The levy of the local funds does not diminish, but rather 
increases the obligation of the State to help those who are 
least able to help themselves and yet come forward to supply 
local resources for their education. 

(iv) The ideal to be kept in view by the provincial govern- 
ments in aiding local funds is enunciated in the letter from the 
Government of India, No. 63, Home Department dated 11th 
February 1871, that is, Government grant to local funds 
should be at the rate of half the local assets or one-third of 
the total expenditure. 

A little calculation will show the utter inadequacy of the above 
proposals of the Commission. The population of British India 
was then about 2,000 lakhs. At 15 per cent the number of 
children of school-going age would be 300 Jakhs. At that time 
the cost per pupil in a departmental school was Rs. 4-6-5 of 
which Government bore Re. 0-15-4, Local Funds bore Rs. 2-9-11 
and Municipal Funds bore Re. 0-4-6, while the cost in an aided 
school was Rs. 3-7-1 of which Government and Local Funds 
bore Rs. 1-2-0. Even assuming that all children would be 
educated in aided schools only, the total cost to Government and 
Local Funds on account of universal education would have been 
about Rs. 337 lakhs. As stated before, the total expenditure on 
primary education in 1882 was Rs. 16.77 lakhs from Provincial 
Revenues and Rs. 24.88 lakhs from Local Funds. Under the 
proposals of the Commission, the increase in expenditure on 
primary education from Government Funds would have been 
more than 500 per cent — from Rs. 17 lakhs to Rs. 112 lakhs and 
that in the expenditure from Local Funds would have been about 
800 per cent— from Rs. 25 lakhs to Rs. 224 lakhs. Obviously 
the question was of immense importance and the ways and 


means of raising these huge sums— ,ftont the standpoint of that 
period— ought to have received a much closer attention at the 
hands of the Commission and its recommendations ought to have 
been far more definite than ta say that “still greater efforts are 
generally demanded” or that “the liberality of one part 'of India 
may afford an example to local Government or Local Boards 
elsewhere”. This disregard of the financial implications of the 
problem robs the recommendations of the Indian Education 
Commission of a large part of their utility. 

Events of the Period of 1882-1902; Some of the recommenda- 
tions of the Indian Education Commission were immediately 
accepted by Government. Special reference must be made to 
the scheme of Local Self-Government which was introduced by 
Lord Ripon. Henceforward, the history of primary education 
in India is indissolubly connected with the growth of Local Self- 
Government. A detailed study of the problem is beyond the 
scope of this book; but the following brief notes will be of 
assistance for an understanding of the future history of primary 

In his famous resolution on this subject, Lord Ripon, observed 
that Local Self-Government was to be looked upon, not “as a 
means of devolution of authority in administration and decentra- 
lisation of financial resources but as a means of popular education 
by which alone progressive communities could cope with theincreas- 
ing problems of Government”, and directed that active measures 
should be taken to develop local bodies in India. His view was 
not received well in all quarters and some Provincial Governments 
pointed out that his proposals would lead to a loss of efficiency. 
But he affirmed that, in course of time, efficiency was bound to 
follow as local knowledge and local interest were brought to bear 
upon the problem of administration. He held the view that it 
was not only bad policy but sheer waste of power not to utilise 
the services of the growing intelligent class of public-spirited men 
in the country and said that local bodies must succeed, 

(a) if adequate resources were made available; 

(b) if transfer of duties involving additional expenditure was 
simultaneously followed by transfer of additional and 


adequate resources; and 

(c) if Government officers “set themselves to foster sedulously 
the small beginings of the independent political life and 
came to realise that the system really opened to them fairer 
field for the exercise of administrative and directive energy 
than the more autocratic system which it superseded”. 

In accordance with this policy. Local Boards or Councils and 
Municipal Boards or Committees or Councils were established in 
all the provinces of India. Primary education was declared to be 
an obligatory duty of these local bodies although secondary and 
higher education was not excluded from their activities. It was 
generally laid down that the first duty of the Local Boards was 
towards primary education. In some provinces rules were fram- 
ed prescribing the minimum percentage of its income which a 
local body ought to devote to education and directing that no 
money should be spent on secondary or higher education unless 
the claims of primary education were adequately provided for. 
Rules were also framed prescribing the powers and duties of local 
bodies over primary education and grant-in-aid codes were drawn 
up. Broadly speaking, therefore, the administrative and legisla- 
tive measures recommended by the Indian Education Commission 
were generally carried out, and subject to rules made in that 
behalf, the control of primary education was transferred to local 
bodies. The extent of this transfer of control, it must be 
remembered, varied from province to province; even in the same 
province it was greater in the case of the municipalities where 
public opinion was more developed than in the case of local boards 
where public awakening was not appreciable. But the important 
point to be noticed is that a step, however small, was definitely 
taken in a direction from which it was next to impossible to 

Coming to the recommendations of the Commission regarding 
indigendus schools, we find that their acceptance was not universal 
except for the adoption of 'the system of payment by results. It 
would appear from the comparative statistics 1 of primary schools 
and pupils for 1881-82 and 1901-2 that Assam had abandoned 

1 Vide Nurullah and Naik: History of Education in India during the Brir'sh 
Period , p. 358. 


its old policy and gone in a direction contrary to that recommend- 
ed by the Commission. Berar, Coorg,*and the Punjab continued 
in their old groove. The United Provinces and Bombay showed 
considerable improvement. But in 1881-82 Bombay had 3,954 
indigenous schools with 78,205 pupils and the United Provinces 
had 6,712 schools with 61,634 pupils. Hence it must be concluded 
that a majority of the indigenous schools was allowed to die out 
in these provinces and only a minority was incorporated into the 
departmental system. Bengal showed a reduction in the number 
of aided schools and a rise in unaided schools. There were 3,265 
unaided schools in 1881-82; but their number in 1901-2 was as 
high as 11,630. Hence, the policy of Bengal cannot be said to be 
fully in accord with the recommendations of the Commission, 
although it did not multiply departmental schools. 

By the beginnig of the twentieth century, the problem of the 
indigenous schools ceased to exist. In provinces where they were 
incorporated into the educational system, they became an integral 
part of the system itself and hence lost their indigenous character 
that was so well described by the Indian Education Commission. 
On the other hand, they died of sheer neglect or competition in 
provinces where they were deliberately treated as the untouchables 
in the caste system of the Education Department. 

Turning to the recommendations of the Commission on the 
policy regarding primary education and its finance, we find that 
they were not carried out by the Provincal Governments. As 
shown earlier, there was a rapid expansion of Collegiate and 
secondary education during the twenty years following the report 
of the Commission. Most of the additional funds were, there- 
fore, taken up by these two branches 'of the educational system 
and primary education had to starve. The expenditure on primary 
education from Government funds was Rs. 16.77 lakhs in 1881- 
82 and it rose only to Rs. 16.92 lakhs in 1901-2! The local 
bodies did a considerable service to the cause of mass education 
because their contributions to the primary education fund in 
1901-2 totalled Rs. 46.1 lakhs as against Rs. 24.9 lakhs in 
1881-82. But in the absence of any substantial increase in the 
contribution from Government, no great expansion of primary 
education could be achieved and the various branches of the 
educational system continued to march with an even more 



unequal step than ever before. 

With regard to actual statistics of schools and literacy in 
1901-2, the unsatisfactory position of primary education is thus 
summarised by the Resolution on Educational Policy dated 11th 
March 1902: 

15. How, then, do matters stand in respect of the extension 
among the masses of primary education? The population of 
British India is over two hundred and forty millions. It is 
commonly reckoned that fifteen per cent of the population 
are of school-going age. According to this standard there are 
more than eighteen million of boys who ought now to be at 
school, but of these only a little more than one-sixth are actually 
receiving primary education. If the statistics are arranged by 
provinces, it appears that out of a hundred boys of an age to 
go to school, the number attending primary schools of some 
kind ranges from between eight and nine in the Punjab and the 
United Provinces, to twenty-two and twenty- three in Bombay 
and Bengal. In the census of 1901 it was found that only one 
in ten of the male population, and only seven in a thousand of 
the female population were literate. These figures exhibit the 
vast dimensions of the problem, and show much remains to be 
done before the proportion of the population receiving ele- 
mentary instruction can approach the standard recognised as 
indispensable in more advanced countries. 

A General Review of the Development of Primary Education in 
India (1854-1902): It will be seen from the foregoing narrative 
that the progress of primary education was very slow in this 
period. This result appears paradoxical when compared With the 
declarations of official policy made from time to time. The Des- 
patch of 1854, for instance, ordered that the attention of Govern- 
ment should be devoted more to primary than to higher education 
and that the active measures of Government should be directed 
towards the education of the masses. It also promised that a 
considerable increase of expenditure would be sanctioned for the 
purpose. The same view was reiterated in the educational surveys 
held between 1865-66 and 1870-71. The Indian Education Com- 
mission also held th$ s^ojp view qncj recommended that *whil$ 


every branch of education can justly claim the fostering care of 
the State, it is desirable, in the present circumstances of the 
country, to declare the elementary education of the masses, its 
provision, extension, and improvement, to be that part of the edu- 
cational system to which the strenuous effort of the State should 
now be directed in a still larger measure than heretofore”. And, 
in spite of all these declarations, the progress in pri mar y educa- 
tion, as shown above, continued to be slow and halting— a.pheno- 
menon which requires some explanation. 

As we look at the problem, the failure of Government to extend 
primary education was due to several wrong decisions on admini- 
strative and financial issues, among which the following may be 

(а) Failure to introduce compulsory education; 

(б) Transfer of primary education to the control of local 
bodies; and 

( c ) Neglect of the indigenous schools. 

(a) Failure to Introduce Compulsory Primary Education : 
Although we cannot expect the Despatch of 1854 to accept the 
principle of compulsory education because, at that time, it was 
not accepted even in England, there is hardly any justification for 
the official silence over the matter even so late as 1902. In 
England, compulsory education had been universally introduced 
under the Acts of 1870, 1876 and 1:880. The Indian Education 
Commission (1882-83) at least should have raised the issue 
especially because several Indian witnesses before it did make a 
demand for compulsory education. But the Commission remained 
silent. An Indian Prince, Maharajah Sayajirao Gaekwar of 
Baroda, went so far ahead as to introduce compulsory education 
in one Division of his State, as an experimental measure, in 
1893-94. Indian leaders like Sir Chimanlal Setalvad and Sir 
Ibrahim Rahimtullah were already making a demand for compul- 
sory primary education. But Government did not consider the 
issue at all until after 1902. The main argument advanced in 
favour of this policy was that the British Government was a 
foreign Government and hence could not compel the people to 
$end their phijdrpfi tp scbpp}— &n aptipn whjch §n Indian Prince 


might take. It may, therefore, be concluded that the principal 
of compulsory edupation was not accepted by Government in 
India in the nineteenth century, mainly because of the lack of 
identification between Government and the people; and in the 
absence of compulsion, the progress of primary education con- 
tinued to be unsatisfactory. 

(b) Transfer of Primary Education to the Control of Local Bodies', 
The second reason for the slow advance of primary edupation was 
the transfer of its control to local bodies. 

This transfer was due to several reasons. Firstly, there was 
the influence from England. As pointed out earlier, the trans- 
fer of primary education to the control of local bodies in 
India in 1884 was inspired by the Elementary Education Acts of 
England, 1870 and 1876. Secondly, the doctrine of State- 
withdrawal from direct educational enterprise which was first enun- 
ciated in 1854 and confirmed in 1882-83, also helped in the same 
direction. Private societies, missionary or Indian, asked for the 
transfer of secondary and collegiate education but none of them 
was prepared to bear the burden of conducting primary schools. 
If the State desired, therefore, to withdraw from direct enterprise 
in primary education, the only way to do so was to entrust it to 
the semi-official local bodies. Thirdly, political consideration also 
came in. Reference has already been made to the discontent 
against British Rule and the demand for self-rule that was slowly 
gaining ground during this period. This demand had to be met 
by the transfer of some responsibility to Indians*, by the grant of 
some form of self-government . It was, therefore, decided that 
local bodies be created, that Indians be given- self-government in 
their management, and that primary education be transferred to 
these bodies as an innocuous and sufficiently rich field for the 
exercise of Indian administrative capacity. For these and other 
reasons, primary education became practically a local subject 
since 1884. 

Now there is nothing intrinsically wrong in such transfer. In 
fact, it would have been a great asset if the original directions of 
Lord Ripon in his Resolution on local self-government had been 
adhered to by later administrators. Lord Ripon had pointed out 
that the experiment would succeed only, (/) if adequate resources 
were made available- {ii) if transfer of duties involving additional 



expenditure was simultaneously followed by transfer of additional 
and adequate resources; and (///) if Gover nm ent officers “set 
themselves to foster sedulously the small beginings of the indepen- 
dent political life and came to realise that the system really 
opened to them fairer field for the exercise of administrative and 
directive energy than the more autocratic system which it 
superseded”. But unfortunately these directions were forgotten 
very soon. Throughout this period (and even later on), the local 
bodies remained financially poor; they became the Cinderellas of 
the official hierarchy, and had to content themselves with the 
crumbs that fell from the Provincial Governments just as the 
Provincial Governments, in their turn, had to depend on the 
crumbs that fell from the tables of the Imperial Government. The 
transfer of such a costly responsibility as that of primary education 
ought to have been followed simultaneously by the transfer of 
sufficiently large reources to enable the local bodies to discharge 
that responsibility. But no such steps were taken. At least liberal 
grants-in-aid ought to have been given to local bodies. Even this 
was not done and Government grant, it was laid down, was not 
to exceed one-third of the total expenditure. Moreover, the proper 
guidance or training that the officials were expected to give to 
Indians in the management of local bodies did not generally 
become available. On the whole, therefore, it may be concluded 
that the conditions laid down by Lord Ripon for the successful 
working of the experiment of local self-government were never 
fulfilled, and that primary education was transferred to organisa- 
tions who had no adequate resources of their own and who were 
given absolutely inadequate grant-in-aid. It is to this failure to 
work out the experiment properly, rather than to any intrinsic 
error in the proposal itself, that we must attribute the adverse 
effect which the transfer to local control ultimately produced upon 
the expansion of primary education. 

It is, however, worthy of note that, in spite of all their 
handicaps the local bodies did substantial service to the cause of 
primary education. As shown already in the preceding section, 
their contribution to primary education rose from Rs. 24.9 lakhs 
in 1881-82 to Rs. 46.1 lakhs in 1901-2, while Government con- 
tribution increased, during the same period, from Rs. 16.77 lakhs 
tp Rs t 16.92 lakhs only!, This liberglity of the local bodies s^ved 



the situation considerably. But it was only an immediate gain. 
The resources of the local bodies were so inelastic and limited that 
they could have never hoped to introduce compulsory primary 
education or even to have brought about any very large expansion 
of schools. They gave an initial push and tided somehow over 
hard times when Government funds were scanty. But with that, 
their contribution to the cause came practically to an end, while 
their continuing to be mainly responsible for primary education 
led to ultimate disadvantages and held up all major lines of 

(c) Neglect of Indigenous Schools : The third cause of the slow 
advantage of primary education was the neglect of indigenous 
schools. Great results could easily have been obtained if all the 
funds that Government and local bodies allotted to primary edu- 
cation had been spent in developing indigenous schools. Instead 
of that, the indigenous schools were allowed to die; and a new 
system of schools was created, ab initio , to take their place. This 
procedure involved a great waste of national energy, which could 
easily have been avoided. But the general attitude of contempt 
that the British officials had for all indigenous things made them 
oblivious to the advantages of the indigenous schools, and as 
shown before, they practically disappeared by 1901-2 and their 
loss was not even compensated by the new system of schools that 
was created in their stead. 

Other Achievements in Primary Education: We have so far discussed 
only three aspects of primary education, v/r„ attitude to indi- 
genous schools, finance, and expansion which were isolated for 
special treatment because they are the most important aspects of 
the problem. It will be clear from the discussion that the record 
of official attempts in these respects was one of failure. We shall 
now turn to the qualitative aspects of primary education where, 
however, the official attempts did score a number of minor 

The main official achievements in this direction were the 

{a) Construction of School Buildings: As already stated in 
Chapter I, the indigenous schools had no buildings of their own. 
Ip England ? where the incjemencjes and uncertainties of weather 


the 'Victorian era 



are so great that a school cannot even start without a building of 
its own, the construction of school buildings was greatly empha- 
sised and the first Parliamentary grants for education, it would be 
recalled, were given for buildings only. This emphasis was trans- 
ferred to India also and the Education Departments spent large 
amounts in providing buildings for primary schools. The achieve- 
ments were fairly satisfactory; but financial stringency always came 
in the way and it was not possible to provide independent buildings 
for all the new primary schools. A great majority of them still 
continued to be held — as were the indigenous schools — in temples, 
mosques, chavdis, and such other public buildings. The one old 
practice of indigenous schools that definitely ceased to exist was 
the holding of the school in the house of the teacher- himself. 

(b) Improvement in the Training and Qualifications of Teachers'. 
Another significant of the Victorian Era was the improvement 
brought about in the general education and training of primary 
teachers. As compared to the indigenous schools, the teachers of 
new schools were certainly better educated. A fairly large percen- 
tage of them were also professionally trained — an idea that was 
unknown to the indigenous system. In local board, municipal or 
Government schools, they were definitely better paid, but^improve- 
ment in aided schools was not equally remarkable owing to the 
inadequate rates of grant-in-aid. Whether they were as zealous 
in the performance of their duty as the indigenous teachers whose 
whole life depended on the progress of their pupils, it is difficult 
to say. But it is by no means uncommon in India to find that 
the quality of education in a good private school is often better 
than in a Government school in spite of the better staff and equip- 
ment of the latter. There has always been a certain loss in effici- 
ency under departmentalisation and, in the new primary schools, 
it is quite probable that the advantages of the super or attain- 
ments of teachers were set off, to some extent, by the deterioration 
in their zeal and enthusiasm. 

(c) Admission of Girls and Pupils of Low-castes: In the indige- 
nous schools, there were very few girls and hardly any Harijan 
pupils. But the new primary schools contained a fair sprinkling 
of girls and Harijan pupils. This was a very significant and far 
leaching achievement of the new system of primary schools. The 
details pf these developments will he discussed ip the next chapter, 

(d) Use of Printed Books : The indigenous schools, it would be 
recalled, used no printed books at all. The new system of edu- 
cation did very valuable service in preparing text-books, printing 
and publishing them and popularising their use in all schools. 
This reform in spite of its undisputed advantages, met with some 
resistance in the early years; but by 1900, the use of printed books 
had been universalised in all primary schools. 

(e) Adoption of New Methods of Teaching: Here, there were 
gains as well as losses. As shown in Chapter I, the monitorial 
system was introduced in England from India. A later develop- 
ment of this was the pupil-teacher system under which senior 
pupils were required to work as assistants to teachers in return 
for a small stipend and were later on absorbed in the profession 
and trained. Both these systems were in use in England for a 
considerable time and assisted the expansion of education by 
reducing its cost. They were abandoned as more funds became 
available and as efficient teachers could be provided without curtail- 
ing the pace of expansion. In India, on the other hand, these 
systems were abandoned soon after they were abandoned in 
England, although the prevailing financial stringency demanded 
their continuance. The result was an inevitable slowing down of 
the pace of expansion. 

On the other hand, teaching in the new primary schools became 
more attractive generally on account of trained teachers and 
adoption of new techniques like kindergarten or object lessons in 
the lower standards. The crude and harsh mode of punishments 
tended to disappear and a more humane treatment of the child 
began to be noticeable. The school equipment also improved 
and assisted in raising the standard of education. While this 
achievement was a definite gain, it was counterbalanced by a 
loss in another direction. The indigenous schools were so small 
in size that individual attention was given to each pupil. There 
were no standards and no fixed periodical examinations. Each 
pupil progressed at his own pace and left when he had acquired 
all he wanted to learn or the school had to teach. In the new 
schools, fixed standards were introduced; periodical examinations 
were held by Departmental officers for promotion from class to 
class. The size of classes was increased so that the individual 
attention paid to pupils becajne less qnd less. A certain amount 



of rigidity inevitably came in with these changes. 

(/) Curriculum : Curricular changes were the result of a 
continuous adjustment between three conflicting forces: the first 
of these was the ambition of the Departmental officers who wanted 
to imitate the developments in England where subject after subject 
was being added to the curriculum; the second was a limiting 
factor, viz., the capacity of the teacher to handle the ever- 
expanding curriculum; and the third was the desire of the average 
parent who demanded an instruction analogous to that of the 
indigenous schools with which he was familiar. This desire re- 
quired a simplification of the curriculum and an emphasis 
on the three R’s — a demand that ran directly contrary to the 
official desire to enrich and to expand. Ultimately, however, the 
the officials had things in there own way and a richer and varied 
curriculum came to be adopted. 

In 1901-2, the subjects included in the primary curriculum 
were Kindergarten, Drawing, Object Lessons, Geography, History, 
Singing and Recitation, Hygiene, Agriculture, Science, Second 
Language, Mensuration, Physical Exercises, and Manual Work. 
Some of these subjects were taught on an optional basis in certain 
provinces and in some, a few of the subjects were omitted 
altogether. But broadly speaking, it can be said that the primary 
curriculum of 1902 was far richer than that of the indigenous 
schools of a century earlier. 

The End of the Victorian Era: We have now completed our 
survey of the development of education in India during the 
Victorian Era. Superficially at any rate, the picture presented 
by the situation was satisfactory and both the British officials 
and the people had reason to be proud of their achievements. 
“Education in India under the British Government," says Howell, 
“was first ignored, then violently and successfully opposed, then 
conducted on a system now universally admitted to be erroneous 
and finally placed on its present footing.” 1 By this final placing 
of the educational system on its present footing Howell refers to 
the ideals and methods advocated in the Despatch of 1854 which 
practically dominated the situation till 1901-2. As compared 
to the controversies and vacillations of the period before 1854, 

Rejections from Educational Records, Vol. I, p, 2, 


the achievements of the new educational system during the 
Victorian Era were undoubtedly good. The indigenous system 
was dead no doubt; but that bothered nobody and hardly any 
tears were wasted upon its disappearance. On the other hand, 
people could see a large expansion of English schools and colleges; 
the establishment of a fairly large network of primary schools 
which were qualitatively superior to the indigenous schools; the 
beginning of an Indian press and a renaissance in Indian life; 
the birth of a new literature in the modern Indian languages; 
the slow but steady progress in such difficult aspects of the prob- 
lem as the education of women, of the Harijans, and of the 
aboriginal and hill tribes; the entry of Muslims in the modern 
type of schools. Even the Indian States had been stirred to 
activity and were generally following, although at a respectable 
distance, the lead, given by British India. Official schools had 
multiplied considerably but several times greater had been the 
increase in schools and colleges of the modern type conducted 
by Indians themselves. On the whole, therefore, both the officials 
, an< * the people had good reasons to be proud of their work and 
to look to the past with a feeling of satisfaction and achievement; 
and that is precisely what they generally did. This does not 
of course mean that there were no causes for complaint or sugges- 
tions of reform. Both of these existed in plenty; but the general 
feeling was that the principles and policies adopted so far were 
broadly sound and all that was needed was merely a question 
' of time and funds. 

Little did the complacent officials or non-officials of this 
period realise that they were sitting on a volcano. Under the 
surface of general satisfaction and well-being, a regular storm had 
been brewing for some years past. Some officials and non- 
officials alike had begun to question the validity of policies which 
had been accepted as fundamental and worked upon with zest 
for more than half a century. The officials were disturbed 
by the growing political unrest which they attributed exclusively 
to modern education; Indians, on the other hand, were beginning 
to be worried by the slow progress of education and the manner 
in which India was losing her ground in the comity of nations. 
Both sides desired a change— although for entirely different 
reasons and in entirely different directions. So long as the 


status quo was being maintained, ’however, criticism was less 
active. But as soon as Lord Curzon broached the question of 
educational reconstruction in 1901, all the underground differences 
of opinion came to the surface, a storm of controversies burst 
forth with unprecedented violence resulting in titanic conflicts 
over certain educational issues. This struggle between the official 
and non-official viewpoints continued for nearly two decades 
and was only partially closed in 1921 with the transfer of control 
of education to elected Indian ministers. The history of this 
phase of the educational history of India, however, will be dealt 
with in the next two chapters. 

Chapter Seven 

Lord Curzon 

General Features of the Period (1902-21): The period of about 

twenty years between the appointment of the Indian Universities 
Commission in 1902 and the transfer of the education to Indian 
control in 1921 forms the fourth period in the history of modern 
Indian education. As compared with the Victorian Era, it 
presents several distinctive features among which may be mention- 
ed, ( a ) larger finances, \b) the more active role assumed by the 
State in Education, (c)'iagorous attempts at qualitative improve- 
ment made in all types of educational institutions, ^/"unprece- 
dented expansion in almost all branches of education, and (eY the 
growth of a militant nationalism among the people. Each of 
these features is so important and unique that it deserves some 
detailed examination, 

(a) Larger Finances Available for Education-. The Victorian 
Era, as we have seen, was a period of general financial stringency. 
Butjj etwcen 1902 and 1921, education had the good fortune to 
o btain much Targer finances than it ever did in the earlier period. 
This was due to several reasons. Firstly, a good and stable 
system of financial relations between the Central and Provincial 
Governments existed throughout the period. This encouraged 
better collection of revenue and greater vigilance in expenditure 
with the result that the resources of the Central and Provincial 
Governments improved considerably and enabled them to provide 
larger finances for education. 

The second source of additional finance was that of Central 
Grants to Ed ucat ion. This was a period of boom in world 'finance 
and India shared in the general prosperity. Trade and commerce 
increased considerably and led to a great increase in Central 
revenues— an event which, in its turn, led to substantial surpluses 
in the central budgets. Between 1902 and 1921, there were only 



six deficit years (three of these, viz., 1918-19 to 1920-21, were the 
years immediately following the First World War when the finances 
of Government were a little embarrassed) while in several years, 
the surpluses were very large. The Government of India allocated a 
part of these surpluses to the Provincial Governments for expendi- 
ture on education. Th e earl iest of these grants was sanctioned by 
^' or ^ ? urzon an d the policy was kept up by his successors. Bet- 
ween 1902 and 1918-19, the grants amounted to about Rs. 500 
lakhs non-recurring and about Rs. 300 lakhs recurring. It would 
be quite correct to say that such large Central Grants have been 
unknown in the history of Indian education, either before or 
since. These grants, more than any other singie factor, were 
responsible for the great expansion and improvement of education 
that was now brought about; and it is these grants which dis- 
tinguish this period so pleasantly from the earlier one of financial 

The third reason for the larger finances that became available 
for education during this period was an all-round improvement in 
Provincial, local and private contributions to education. The 
finances of the Provincial Governments improved and hence they 
increased their contributions to education; the local boards and 
municipalities also shared in the general prosperity and assigned 
larger grants to education than before; the increase in the number 
of students (coupled, in some cases, with increases in fee rates) 
brought in a much larger income from fees; and the general 
awakening among the people was responsible for increasing the 
receipts under the miscellaneous head endowments, donations, 
subscriptions, etc. 

It will thus be seen that this was a period when the total finance 
available for education increased very considerably. In round 
figures, the total expenditure on education from all sources, 
public or private, w hi c h was Rs. 401 iakhs only in 1901-2lncreas-. 
ed to Rs. 1,837 lakhs in 1921-22. ' * 

(b) More Active Role of the State: Another distinctive feature 
of this period was the more active role assumed by the State. 
Prior to 1902, as shown in Chapter V, the State played only a 
minor role in education, the doctrine of State-withdrawal from 
direct educational enterprise held the field, and the State did 
little more than pay grant-in-aid to private institutions and, in 


return, exercise some kind of a control over them. This picture 
was^e^rely^changed between 1902 and 1921. Under the lead 
giv^njsy Lord Cujrzon, the doctrine of State*- withdrawal was 
officially abandoned a nd it was held to be the duty of the State 
to maintain a few inst itutio ns of every type as models to private 
At© inspecting staff was strengthened and a vigilant 
policy of inspection and supervision of private schools was adopt- 
ed in lieu of the old policy of laissez-faire . The details of this 
important change will be described in later sections; but it is 
necessary to state here that, as a broad result of the new policy, 
the State began not only to play a more active role in education 
than it did in the past but also to claim the right to control 
private enterprise as rigidly as possible. 

This change was due to several causes. The first was, as 
usual, the influence from England where the State had under the 
Balfour Act of 1902 begun to control private enterprise in ele- 
mentary education more thoroughly than in the past. Secondly, 
the attempts made in England at this time to improve the Quality 
of education made the Departmental officials in India feel that 
they too should make similar attempts and control private enter- 
prise more strictly with a view to raising the standards. ^Thirdly, 
the growing political consciousness among the educated people 
made the British officials feel a little concerned. They had hoped 
that the men and women who came out of English schools and 
colleges would ever remain grateful and loyal to England for her 
services to India. B ut what they no w fo und w as that the average 
educate d roan became a discontented critic of British rule. This 
is not what they had bargained for and many of them adopted 
a panicky attitude towards these results and began to assert that 
the whole scheme of English education in India was wrong and 
those who subscribed to this view argued that private schools, 
especially those under Indian managements, were breeding sedi- 
tion. They suggested, therefore, that Government should control 
them rigidly and improve their corporate discipline and the 
character of their students. 

The desire for exercising greater control over private enterprise 
and to provide a more active role to the State in education was, 
therefore, only partly educational but mainly political. And for 
that very reason, it was vehemently opposed by all sections of 





nationalist Indian opinion. They really wanted the right to 
control educational policies; but if this were not to be had, they 
preferred to have a more or less incipient Department to one 
that was extremely active. If one had to be ruled over by an 
alien, a king log , they felt, was to be certainly preferred to king 
stork . But the officials of this period tried to increase depart- 
mental control on the one hand and to make it more bureau- 
cratic and less amenable to Indian opinion on the other. As Shri 
G. K. Gokhale put it, the official attempt to control private enter- 
prise on the grounds of efficiency and without taking the educated 
Indians into confidence was aimed at perpetuating the narrow , 
bigoted , and inexpansive rule of experts. A conflict thus ensued 
between Government and the educated public. Government 
claimed^ the right to control all educatian rigidly in the interests of 
the people and on grounds of efficiency. The Indian public 
opinion, on the other hand, resisted the attempt aT^ontrol on 
political grounds. It did not object to the more active role 
demanded of the State. But it claimed that such a change in the 
role of the State cannot be allowed unless and until the character 
of the State itself was changed from a bureaucracy to a demo- 
cracy. As was only to be expected, the people ultimately won 
and in 1902, the control of the Education Departments in the 
Provinces was transferred to Indian ministers; and with this 
transfer, the long-drawn-out battle over the control issue lost its 
political character. 

( c ) Efforts at Qualitative Improvements : Between 1854 and 
1902, the principal objective _of educational j)olicy^ had been 
expansion rather than improvement. It is true that ^several 
reforms and improvements had been carried out in these years; 
but they were always subordinate to the drive to increase the 
numbers, and the assumptiorToTofficial policy always was that 
some school was better than no school. But this outlook was 
entirely changed in the period 1902-21, the initiative in the matter 
again having been taken by Lord Curzon. It was now pointed 
out, on a survey of the educational results of the period between 
1854 and 1902 that, during those years, education had not 
materially advanced in quantity but had definitely deteriorated 
in quality. It was this analysis of the educational position that 
made Curzon start a drive for qualitative reform. It is true that 

he did try to expand primary education. But even here he 
emphasised certain qualitative improvements and was not pre- 
pared to accept the princi ple of c ompulsory education' which the 
Indian people had begun to demand. At the secondary and 
\ collegiate stage, Indian opinion demanded the widest possible 
expansion on voluntary basis; but here Curzon definitely pre- 
ferred to curtail numbers and improve quality. On the whole, 
therefore, the official view, as represented here by Lord Curzon, 
stood for quality rather than for quantity. 

(b) Unprecedented Expansion of Education : In spite of this 
official predilection for quality, there was an all-round and un- 
precedented expansion of education in all branches between 
1901-2 and 1921-22. 

Progress of Education between 1901-2 and 1921-22 ■ 

Type of Institution 

No. of Institutions 

No. of Scholars 




• 1921-22 

1. Universities 



Figures not 

Figures not 

2. Arts Colleges 

145 1 




3. Professional 





4. Secondary 





5. Primary Schools 





6. Special Schools 





Total for Recognised 





7. Unrecognised 





Grand Total 





N B The figures of 1901-2 include figures for Burma and some Indian 
States, while the figures of 1921-22 are for British India only exclusive of 
} Burma. 


This rapid expansion which originated under the Viceroyalty 
of Lord Curzon, was due to several causes. The most important 
of these were the great social and political awakening that was 
now created in the country as a result of the struggle for freedom, 
and the large financial resources that now became available for 
education. The improvement in quality was mainly an official 
achievement; but expansion was achieved by Indian enterprise, 
sometimes with official support (particularly at the primary 
stage) but more often in defiance of their controls and even 

(e) The Growth of a Militant Nationalism among the People . As 
shown in Chapter VI, the spirit of nationalism was slowly grow- 
igg^hetween 1885 and 19DJ under a ^urface~of^eneral loyalty 
to^British Rule and was about to burst into a stornTaTlEe close 
of the nineteenth century. The Viceroyalty of ‘Xord* Curzon 
provided the immediate cause for tfiis - outburst. \With all his 
great intellectual powers, infinite capacity for work, strong sense 
of duty, intense desire to serve the people of India and magni- 
ficent achievements in almost all fields of administration, Curzon 
never theles s blundered into wounding the educated intelligentsia 
beyond hope of reconciliation. The reasons are not far to seek. 
He had a bad satirical vein and often spoke and wrote in a way 
thaTEurt the sus reptib ilities of people. For instance, he advoca- 
ted~~The 'Introduction of Kindergarten methods and object 
lessons in primary schools as specially calculated “to correct some 
of the inherent defects of the Indian intellect)” 1 In his Convocation 
Addresses at the Calcutta University, 1902 and 1905, he made 
several such offending remarks of which the following is a TJrief 
but typical example: 

I hope I am making no false or arrogant claim when I say 
that the highest ideal of truth is to a large extent a Western 
conception. I do not thereby mean to claim that Europeans 
are universally or even generally truthful, still less do I mean 
that Asiatics deliberately deviate from the truth. The one pro- 
position would be absurd, and the other insulting. But un- 
doubtedly truth took a high place in the moral codes of the 
West before it had been similarly honoured in the East, where 
Government Resolution on Educational Policy (1904), para 20. 


craftiness and diplomatic wile have always been held in much 
repute. We may prove it by the common innuendo that lurks 
in the words ‘‘Oriental diplomacy’*, by which is meant some- 
thing rather tortuous and hypersubtle. The same may be seen 
in the Oriental literature. In your epics truth will often be 
e xtolled as a virtue; but quite as often it is attended with some 
and very often praiseTs given to sucessful decep- 
tion practised with honest aim. 1 

Remarks such as these which were derogatory to the nation 
as a whole could not be taken lying down and the intelligentsia 
protested. These protests made Curzon angry because he never 
really learnt to understand or tolerate opposition and he came 
out with still more s arcastic remarks which made the position 
wors e tha n before? And so the battie went on till the educated 
classesjgfthe co untry because irreconcilably opposed to him and 
spirit of nationalism which militated against the 

It should not be supposed that the conflict between Curzon 
and the intelligentsia arose out of a wordy warfare only. The 
real issue at stake went far deeper. Curzon represented, not 
himself, but the whole bureaucracy that ruled India in the name 
of Parliament. It was, therefore, really a conflict between the 
Britishjsureaucracy on the one hand and the educated Indian 
intelligentsia on the other, that was being staged now through 
all the controversies that arose over official policies. Both the 
sides knew that the battle would ultimately be decided by the 
illiterate and dumb millions of India. The educated 
Indians claimed that they stood for and spoke in the name of these 
voiceless millions. Curzon denied this claim, and asserted that 
it was not the Indian intelligentsia but the British bureaucracy 
that spoke for the masses. He sincerely believed that the desti- 
nies of the Indian masses werjex2*I^ ed by Providence to British 
hands and that British officials must continue to work in India for 
the good of the masses, almost for eternity. He also claimed (per- 
haps quite honestly according to his convictions) to have adminis- 
tered India for and in the interests of these masses. The educated 
Indians, of course, regarded this claim as most fantastic and 
x Lord Curzon in India , Vol. II, p. 222. 




they naturally repudiated this Curzonian assumption. They 
claimed that they alone had the right to speak for the Indian 
masses. But Curzon just pooh-poohed them. Speaking to 
graduates who might become journalists, he said: 

Remember, when you use the editorial ‘ we’, that ‘we’ is, after 
all, only ‘I’, and that the individual T is only one among three 
hundred millions. 1 

H e ridi culed journalists and politicians as persons who are 
incapable of action and who only talk and pass resolutions, and 
branded his educated adversaries as hunters of posts or seats on 
Councils and took pride in the fact that he saw no reason to satisfy 
their demands. On the whole, it may be said that, in the Tndia 
of Lord Curzon’s conception, 

there was no room for an Indian Intelligentsia aspiring to lead 
and speak for the masses; and in so far as the Indian educated 
classes claimed to be the prophets of what they themselves 
spoke of as “the new Nationalism” which was stirring in the 
land, he simply brushed them aside. The India which he pictured 
to himself was a land of vast spaces peopled by a patient and 
primitive peasantry, content to raise their crops and rear their 
cattle and to leave all other things to the superior and, on the 
whole, beneficent Power to whom chance or Providence had 
entrusted them. 2 

It is no wonder that Curzon was not only the ablest but also 
the most-hated Viceroy that ever came to India. 

We have dealt with these political developments in a little detail 
because they throw interesting light on some points in educational 
history. Firstly, they show why even the good measures of 
Curzon were misunderstood and therefore attacked by his 
contemporaries. These political controversies were inevitably 
carried into the educational field and officials and non-officials 
fought over questions of primary or higher education in more or 
l^fj.tfe^same way in which they came into conflict over political 

unfeLM«<a<M5<in <H V p. 218. 

*Ronaldshay: Life of Lord Ci/rjeSCVcpl, llljpv 44JL-- 


issues. Secondly, they show why Curzon failed in his principal 
objective inlndia. He came to this country to strengthen the 
British Empire , and even to make India a base for a further 
development of the Empire in Asia. But as the tragedy of history 
would have it, his utterances and actions gave immediate rise to 
a militant nationalism; the Indian National Congress became 
stronger than ever and under the leadership of persons like Dada- 
bhai Naoroji, Tilak, C. R. Das, the Ali brothers, Gokhale and 
Annie Besant, carried on a national struggle that soon became 
irresistible Consequently, history will describe Curzon as the 
Viceroy who made the biggest contribution to the weakening of 
the British rule in India. Thirdly, this new militant nationalism 
created a new attitude among the people towards several edu- 
cational problems. For instance, it demanded early Indianisation 
of the Education Department; adoption of Indian languages as 
media of instruction; the teaching of history from the Indian view- 
point against that of the imperialist power; the development 

of a feeling of patriotism among the students of schools and 
colleges; and so on. These will be dealt with in detail in the next 
chapter under national education; it is enough to state here that 
the demand for national education which arose in this period was 
the result of a revolt against the intellectual domination of the 
West just as the new militant nationalism symbolised a revolt 
against the political power of Britain in India. Lastly, another 
historical tragedy is also revealed here. It was the British bureau- 
cracy that had invented the Downward Filtration Theory and 
talked of creating a class of educated Indians who would act as 
intermediaries between them and the people and who would, in 
their turn, educate the masses. Though the theory was long in 
taking action, by 1902, such a class had been created and had 
begun to teach the masses. But it was exactly at this juncture 
that the bureaucracy became suddenly jealous, denied the repre- 
sentative character of this educated class and tried to throw it out 
by seeming directly to educate the masses and claiming their 
leadership. It is true that the bourgeois middle class who formed 
the bulk of the educated Indian intelligentsia of this period had 
no really solid claims to represent the masses; but they certainly! 
had a better claim to do so than the British bureaucrats; and 
naturally they won. yj 



Issues in Educational Controversies: This political conflict had 
its educational implications as well. Curzon and his successors 
believed that what Indian education needed most was qualitative 
reform . Their view may be briefly stated as follows: 

/(a) The recommendations of the Indian Education Commission 
had outlived their utility. They were designed primarily to 
secure expansion of education through private effort and 
that object had already been secured. 

(b) The policy of laissez-faire to private enterprise, which was 
recommended by the Commission and adopted by the 
Education Departments in later years, had brought in 
various evils; for instance, most of the institutions conducted 
by private agencies were inefficient, poorly staffed, and 
poorly equipped and were more in the nature of coaching 
institutions for examinations than educational centres in the 

/ proper sense of the word. 

(c) The only remedy for these evils was to replace the policy of 
laissez-faire and expansion by one of control and improve- 

(d) The recommendation of the Commission that Government 
should withdraw from direct educational enterprise was 
suicidal. Fortunately, it had never been acted upon and 
time had come when it must be officially abandoned. On 
the other hand, it was the duty of Government to mantain 
some institutions as models to private enterprise. 

(e) As Indians can never have the same efficiency as English- 
men, all superior posts in the Education Department must 
continue to be held by the British people. 

{/) Education in secondary schools and colleges was being 
infected by politics and standards of discipline were lowered. 
Politics must, therefore, be completely excluded from the 

(if) The standard of English should be raised still further 

On the other hand, Gokhale (and those who followed him) be- 
lieved that the most cryTng need of India was quantitative advance. 
The view of this school of thought may be summarised as 


t(aj Indians challenged the wisdom of the policy which put 
quality first and quantity next. They pointed out that this 
policy might suit England where expansion of education 
was already complete, but that it had no place in India 
where expansion had not even begun in right earnest. 

* (b) The official desire to control and improve secondary and 
collegiate education was ascribed to political motives and 
it was said that the real motive was not the improvement of 
educational standards, but the sabotaging of the develop- 
/ ment of national feeling in the minds of educated Indians. 
(c) The official attempt to expand primary education was 
generally appreciated, but it was felt that the rate of expan- 
sion visualised by the Education Departments was quite out 
of proportion to the needs of the situation. It was held that 
there must be a still greater expansion of secondary and 
collegiate education; and that in primary education, the 
^ principle of compulsion must be accepted. 

\d) Complete and speedy Indianisation of the Education 
Department was demanded. 

Education, to be worthy of its name, must develop love for 
the mother-country and not loyalty to British Rule. 
if) Nationalist sentiment also revolted against the exaggerated 
importance attached to English and claimed that the modern 
Indian languages should be adopted as media of instruction. 

It is obvious that the differences of opinion were fundamental 
and a conflict was inevitable. Had Lord Curzon and his advisers 
made an attempt to appreciate the Indian point of view and to 
meet it half-way, the history of education in India would have 
taken an entirely different turn. Lord Curzon, however, pushed 
forward his favourite plan of reform and thereby greatly alienated 
Indian public opinion. His policy was kept up by his successors 
as well, so that a conflict between the official and non-official 
points of view dominated the history of education during the 
period as a whole. The continuous and mostly fruitless struggles 
over several issues ultimately led Indians to think that real 
improvement in education was impossible unless they obtained 
the right to control educational policies. This feeling gathered 
strength as time passed, until it resulted ultimately in the transfer 


of the Education Department to Indian Ministers under the 
Government of India Act, 1919. 

The Indian Universities Commission (1902): Curzon accorded top 
priority in his programme to university reform because, according 
to him, the most strenuous efforts were needed at that stage. It 
was to help him in this task that he appointed on 27t h January 
,a Commission to inquire into the condition and prospects 
diversities established in British India and to consider and 
report upon proposals for improving their constitution and 
working. The Commission submitted its report in the same year 
a rather lengthy and highly technical document which does not 
require a detailed analysis and examination in this book. It will 
be sufficient for our purpose to note the following special features 
of this report: 

(a) The Commission adopted the model of the London 
University as modified by the Act of 1898. As the Calcutta 
University Commission points out: 

In 1902 as in 1857, the policy of London seemed to be the 
latest word of educational statesmanship. There were four 
features of the London changes whose influence is directly per- 
ceptible in the Indian discussions. The first was the assertion 
that every university ought to be a teaching university. The 
, second was the principle that no college should be allowed full 
privileges unless it was thoroughly well staffed and equipped. 
The third was the principle that teachers must always be intima- 
tely associated with the government of the university. The 
fourth was the contention that the supreme governing body of 
the university — called, in London as in India, the Senate — ought 
not to be too large. Thus once again, as so often before, edu- 
cational controversy in England had its echo in India. 1 

(b) Just as the Commission of 1882 was precluded from 
reporting on university reform this Commission was precluded 
from reporting on secondary education. The result was equally 
unhappy and the Commission could not deal with the problem 
as a whole. 

Report, Vol, I, p. 65. 


(c) The fundamental problems before the Commission were two: 

(i) v^fo determine the type of university organisation that 

should be ultimately developed in India; and 

( ii ) Kfo propose such transitional arrangements as would enable 

the country to reach this predetermined goal in the shortest 
possible time. 

Rsis to be regretted, however, that the Report of the Commis- 
sion aid not discuss these fundamental questions and, therefore, 
the Act of 1904 did not a im at the fundamental reconstruction of 
the Inaain University system . It only proposed a rehabilitation 
and~strengthening of the then existing system of affiliatirig 

(d) It would be recalled that affiliating universities were set up 
in India in 1857 just one year before affiliation, as the basis of 
university "organisation, was abandoned in London. A similar 
tragedy took place in 1902 also. The report of the Indian Uni- 
versities Commission submitted in 1902 does not contain, as 
pointed out above, any discussion of the fundamental problems of 
university organisation, presumably because they were not being 
then discussed in England. In the very next year, however, 
the disruption in the federal Victoria University of Northern 
England was followed by a great discussion of the principles of 
university administration and led to the abandoning of the federal 
type of universities. Perhaps India would have profited more 
had the Commission sat in 1907 instead of in 1902. 

(e) The recommendations of the Commission refer mainly to 
the following five topics: 

(i) The reorganisation of university government. 

(ii) A much more strict and systematic supervision of the 
colleges by the University, and the imposition of more 
exacting conditions of affiliation. 

(iii) A much closer attention to the conditions under which 
students live and work. 

(iv) The assumption of teaching functions by the University 
within defined limits. 

(v) Substantial changes in curricula, and in the methods of 





The third and the fifth of these groups of recommendations 
were necessarily left to be dealt with in detailed regulations to be 
framed by the recorganised universities. But the first, second and 
fourth groups of recommendations were embodied later in the 
Indian Universities Act, 1904, to which we shall now turn. 

The Indian Universities Act, 1904: The first important change 
proposed by the Act was the enlargement of the functions of a 
university. Section 3 of the 1904 Act provided that, 

the University shall be and shall be deemed to have been incor- 
porated for the purpose (among others) of making provision for 
the instruction of students, with power to appoint University 
Professors and Lecturers, to hold and manage educational 
endowments, to erect, equip and maintain University libraries, 
labaratories and museums, to make regulations relating to the 
residence and conduct of students, and to do all acts, consistent 
with the Act of Incorporation and this Act, which tend to the 
promotion of study and research. 

The second important change proposed by the Act aimed at 
making the university senates of a manageable size. The Acts of 
Incorporation provided that Fellows of Universities were to be 
appointed by Government for life and did not lay down any 
upper limit to the number of Senators. During the fifty years 
that followed of Government did not always exercise this power 
of appointment in the best interests of the University with the result 
that the Senates became extremely unwieldy. The Indian Uni- 
versities Act, 1904, proposed, therefore, that the number of 
Fellows of a University shall not be less than fifty nor more than a 
hundred and that a Fellow should hold office for five years only 
instead of for life . 

The third change made by the Act was to introduce the principle 
of election. The Act of 1904 required that twenty Fellows should 
be elected at the three older Universities and fifteen at the other 

The fourth change introduced by the Act was to give a statu- 
tory recognition to syndicates and also to give an adequate 
representation to university teachers on the syndicates concerned. 

The fifth change introduced by the Act was to provide stricter 
conditions for the affiliation of colleges to a university and to 
provide that all affiliated colleges should be periodically inspected 
by the Syndicate in order to see that a proper standard of effici- 
ency is being maintained. Affiliation and disaffiliation of colleges 
now required the approval of Government. 

The sixth change introduced by the Act was to vest in Govern- 
ment certain powers regarding the regulations to be framed by 
the Senate. Under the Acts of Incorporation, the sole authority 
for making regulations was the Senate and Government had only 
the power to veto inasmuch as all regulations had to obtain the 
approval of Government. The Indian Universities Acts of 1904 
provided that while approving the regulations framed by the 
Senate, Government may make such additions and alterations as 
may be necessary and even frame regulations itself should the 
Senate fail to do so within a specified period. 

Lastly , the Act empowered the Governor-General-in-Council 
to define the territorial limits of the universities. This point was 
left moot in the Acts of 1857 with the result that certain anomalies 
crept in later on. For instance, some colleges were affiliated to 
two universities; some others were situated in the jurisdiction of 
one university but affiliated to another; and so on. Section 27 of 
the Act, therefore, laid down that “the Governor-General-in- 
Council may, by general or special order, define the territorial 
limits within which, and specify the colleges in respect of which, 
any powers conferred by or under the Act of Incorporation or 
this Act shall be exercised”. 

Indian Reactions to the Universities Act, 1904: The Indian public 
opinion violently opposed this Act, not because Indians were 
opposed to the idea of University reform as such, but because, 
with the background of distrust and uneasiness which was chara- 
cteristic of this period, the proposals of Government were wrongly 
interpreted. It was believed that, under the pretext of reforms. 
Government was really trying to vest all power in the hands of 
European educationists, i.e., the European professors in Govern- 
ment and Missionary colleges — with a view to sabotaging the 
development of Indian private enterprise in the field of higher 
education. The Indian opposition to the Universities Act of 





1904 centred chiefly round five issues: 

Firstly , it was felt that the provisions which enabled the Uni- 
versity to assume teaching functions would remain a dead-letter, 
as they had remained in the case of Allahabad, because the Act 
made no provision for financial assistance to Universities. 

Secondly , Indian opinion welcomed the principle of election 
introduced by the Bill but pointed out that the seats thrown open 
to election were very few and that the Act failed to provide for 
election by professors who were just, the class of persons who had 
more immediate interest than any other in the deliberations of 
the University. 

Thirdly , while Indian opinion was not opposed to the idea of 
restricting the total number of Fellows in the University, a fear 
was expressed that the small numbers fixed by the Act— evidently 
inspired by the model of the reconstituted London University — 
were really intended to create a majority for Europeans in the 
constitution of Indian Universities. 

Fourthly , the stricter provisions for affiliation of colleges were 
also strongly opposed. This was due to the fear that the field 
of education — a fear that was all the more strengthened by the 
idea that the reorganised university bodies will mostly consist of 

But the greatest opposition of all was direct against those 
aspect of the Act which gave more powers to Government in the 
administration of universities. These included the power to 
nominate most of the Fellows, the power to require approval for 
affiliation or disaffiliation of colleges, the power to alter, or even 
to frame regulations, etc. It was argued and quite rightly that 
under the new Act. the universities became practically a Depart- 
ment of the State. 

Achievement of the Indian Universities Act of 1904: In the heat 
of bitter controversy about university reform that regard between 
the years 1902 and 1905, the importance of the Indian Universties 
Act of 1904 was greatly exaggerated by Government spokesmen 
who looked upon it as a panacea for all the ills of collegiate 
education while Indian public opinion misunderstood the Act and 
condemned it unequivocally as a retrograde measure. But the 
Act was neither one nor the other; and at this distance of time. 

it is possible to view dispassionately its achievements and failures. 

The analysis of the Act given in an earlier section will show 
that it was primarily an administrative measure. Its avowed aim 
was to make the administration of universities more efficient than 
it had been hitherto and it must be admitted that it succeeded 
considerably in this. The Senates of the reorganised universities 
were more manageable and efficient than earlier ones; and as the 
nominations made by Government belied the fears of the Indian 
public it was soon admitted on all hands that the Act had, on the 
whole, raised the tone of University administration. 

Secondly, the stricter conditions of affiliation and the arrange- 
ments for periodical inspection made it difficult for new colleges 
to spring into existence and even led to the elimination of a 
number of weak institutions. It is, however, a significant fact 
that the growth of Indian private enterprise in the field of collegi- 
ate education was not affected adversely by the Indian Universities 
Act of 1904. If anything, the growth of colleges conducted by 
Indians was far more rapid after 1904 than before it. The fears 
of the opponents of the Act, therefore, proved to be groundless 
to a considerable extent. On the other hand, the hopes enter- 
tained by the framers of the Act that the strict conditions of 
affiliation would lead to an improvement in collegiate instruction 
were largely fulfilled. It is, of course, true that it was not the 
conditions, by themselves, that led to the improvement. Large 
increase in fee-receipts owing to the rise in the number of students 
coupled with the prescription of higher rates of fees, liberal 
grants-in-aid from Government, and considerable endowments 
from people were also the factors that materially contributed to 
this end. All the same, the salutary effect of the Act in initiating, 
maintaining or accelerating this upward trend in efficiency cannot 
be overlooked or underestimated. 

Thirdly, the Act made the Government of India sanction the 
first grants to Indian universities. Prior to 1904, Government 
did not give any grants-in*aid to any university except the Punjab 
which received an annual grant of about Rs. 30,000 because it 
conducted the Oriental and Law Colleges. No grant was also 
felt to be necessary as the only items of expenditure in a university 
were a small office establishment and examinations. No money 
was spent even on the payment of travelling expenses of the 




Fellows who were expected to attend the meetings at their own 
cost. The total expenditure of a university, therefore, was easily 
met from the examination fees and often a surplus was left over. 

Circumstances were changed by the Act of 1904. Meetings of 
the Senate and of the Syndicate were now more frequently held; 
the inspections of affiliated colleges had to be regularly carried 
out; additional staff had to be entertained to cope with the 
heavy routine work created by the Act and the regulations; and 
above all, something had to be done by way of implementing 
the hopes that were created by Section 3 of the Act. All this 
meant additional expenditure — a circumstance to which attention 
had already been drawn by Gokhale in his speeches on the Bill. 
The Government of India announced, therefore, that they would 
make a grant of Rs. 5,00,000 a year for 5 years, for the improve- 
ment of collegiate education and universities. The first grant was 
sanctioned in 1904-5 and of the total amount of Rs. 25 lakhs so 
given, Rs. 11| lakhs were allotted to universities for administra- 
tion; inspection, travelling charges, the purchase of land and 
erection of buildings, and Rs. 1 31 lakhs were given to Provincial 
Governments for improvement of colleges. Although the grant 
of Rs. 5,00,000 a year was originally meant for five years only, 
it was later made a permanent recurring grant and a sum of 
Rs. 1,35,000 out of it was assigned for university education and 
the remainder was assigned to collegiate education. This was 
but the beginning of a movement which has continued ever since 
and needless to say, the system of Government grants to univer- 
sities which was started by Lord Curzon in 1904-5 has led 
ultimately to considerable improvement in higher education. 

These three were the main achievements of the Act which are 
beyond all controversy. But in so far as the two sides to the 
conflict over the Indian Universities Act, 1904, were concerned, 
both have been proved to be wrong to some extent by the in- 
exorable logic of history. The Indians who opposed the Act 
under certain apprehensions found that their fears were liars; 
that the Act did not sabotage Indian private enterprise; that it 
did not throw the monopoly of Indian education into European 
hands any more than what they already had; that some additional 
funds did come in to the universities so that the Act was not, 
after all , all control and no funds. This was, however, a pleasant 


disillusionment. Lord Curzon, on the other hand, must have 
felt very sad that his hopes were dupes and that a measure which 
he planned with such zest and carried through in the midst of 
such a storm, should fail him in most respects. He did indeed 
succeed in bis plan of control and the Act created, in the words 
of the Sadler Commission, the most completely governmental 
universities in the world. 

Curzon's Reforms in Collegiate Education: As a corollary to the 
reforms introduced in the universities. Government had to under- 
take reforms in collegiate education as well. Larger financial 
assistance had to be given to private colleges in order to enable 
them to come to the higher standard expected under the new 
university regulations and better provision had to be made for 
libraries, hostels and laboratories. Lord Curzon, therefore, 
assigned as already stated, a sum of Rs. 13^ lakhs to collegiate 
education as additional grants-in-aid between 1904-5 and 1908-9. 
The grant was divided amongst the provinces upon principles 
which took into account their population and the numbers of 
students in Arts colleges under private management. As in the 
case of the universities, these grants to collegiate education also 
materially assisted in improving the efficiency of colleges in 
general, and in particular, in making better provision of hostels 
and the teaching of sciences. 

Lord Curzon’s Policy in Secondary Education: By 1902, the 
problem of secondary education presented several features which 
• were also common to that of collegiate education. In both, a 
large and a rapid expansion had been achieved between 1882 and 
1902; private institutions conducted by Indians formed the largest 
single group in both the fields; and just as there existed a number 
of colleges which depended mostly on fees and throve rather as 
coaching institutions than as centres of learning, there were a 
number of secondary schools whose efficiency was far from 
satisfactory. It was, therefore, natural that Lord Curzon should 
adopt the same policy in secondary education as he had previously 
adopted in the field of collegiate education under the Indian 
Universities Act of 1904. 

This new policy in secondary education which was put in 



practice during the years 1904-8 has been categorically stated 
ion Government Resolution on Educational Policy issued in 
1904. It is necessary to analyse it fully and contrast it with the 
po icy recommended by the Indian Education Commission in 
order to understand the events of this period in their proper 


Control of Private Enterprise: The new policy in secondary 
education had two important aspects— control and improvement. 
With regard to the first of these, it may be stated that Govern- 
ment tried to control private enterprise in a number of ways the 
most important of which are noticed below: 

(a) Recognition by the Department: It has been the opinion of 
the Indian Education Commission that the Departments should 
only prescribe the conditions on wnich grant-in-aid would be paid 
to private schools and that managers who did not ask for aid 
(or did not obtain it) should be left free to develop their schools 
along their own lines. Between 1882 and 1902, therefore, the 
Departments laid down fairly comprehensive codes for the 
guidance of aided institutions, but did not make any serious 
attempt to regulate unaided schools. This view was given up 
and it was now argued that Government ought to control all 
private secondary schools, whether aided or unaided. The 
Government Resolution of 1904 explains this policy in the following 

Whether these schools are managed by public authority or by 
private persons, and whether they received aid from public 
funds or not, the Government is bound in the interests of the 
community to see that the education provided in them is sound. 
It must, for example, satisfy itself in each case that a secondary 
school is actually wanted; that its financial stability is assured; 
that its managing body, where there is one, is properly con- 
stituted; that it teaches the proper subjects up to a proper 
standard; that due provision has been made for the instruction, 
health, recreation, and discipline of the pupils; that the teachers 
are suitable as regards character, number, and qualifications; 
and that the fees to be paid will not involve such competition 
with any existing schools as will be unfair and injurious to the 


interests of education. Such are the conditions upon which 
alone schools should be eligible to receive grants-in-aid or to 
send up pupils to compete for, or receive pupils in enjoyment 
of, Government scholarship; and schools complying with them 
will be ranked as ‘recognised’ schools. 

A comparison of the above conditions of recognition with 
Section 21 of the Indian Universities Act of 1904 will show that 
they are practically the same as the conditions prescribed for the 
affiliation of colleges. These conditions were soon incorporated 
in the Provincial Codes of grant-in-aid, and since 1904, the 
Departments began to prescribe the conditions of recognition and 
not of grant-in-aid as had been the practice in the past. 

(b) Recognition by the Universities: In addition to the recognition 
granted by the Department, secondary schools had to obtain 
recognition from a University if they desired to present pupils at 
the Matriculation examination conducted by that University. 
This could have been a great weapon of control; but prior to 
1904, it had little or no value in practice. The regulations on 
the subject were generally defective; and even such regulations as 
existed were often loosely administered; the Universities had no 
agency for the inspection of schools, and consequently had to 
depend on the information supplied by the schools themselves; 
and as the University and the Department worked independently 
of each other in matters of recognition, a conflict was not in- 
frequent. Under the Indian Universities Act of 1904, however, 
regulations were framed by all universities for the recognition of 
schools. These regulations laid down the conditions which must 
be fulfilled by a recognised secondary school and closed the back- 
door by forbidding admission to the Matriculation of candidates 
from unrecognised schools. Similarly, regulations were also 
framed with a view to minimising the conflict between the Depart- 
ment and the University. 

(c) Privileges of Recognition and Enforcement of Conditions of 
Recognition : As is quite well known, the mere prescription of 
conditions for recognition will hardly serve any purpose unless 
the privileges attached to recognition are so important as to make 
the schools desire it and unless an adequate machinery is created 
to enforce the conditions of recognition. Recognition by the 





University entitled a school to send pupils to the Matriculation. 
Similarly, it was now laid down that recognition from the 
Department will entitle a school to (/) receive a grant-in-aid 
from Government; (ii) send up pupils for Government examina- 
tions or for the entrance examinations of Government Technical 
schools; and (mi) receive pupils holding Government scholarships. 
In order to encourage schools to seek for recognition by the 
Department and to enable them to come up to the higher 
standards that were now prescrided, Government decided to 
increase the grant-in-aid to private schools. Government also 
strengthened the inspecting staff for enforcing the conditions of 

(d) Prohibition of Transfers from Unrecognised to Recognised 
Schools : A careful analysis of the privileges of recognition will 
show that schools would value departmental recognition for pur- 
poses of grants and university recognition for purposes of the 
Matriculation. But both these inducements would have had 
no effect on schools which did not receive, or hope for, a grant- 
in-aid (and hence did not mind recognition by the Department 
being refused or withdrawn) or which did not teach up to the 
Matriculation (and hence did not come under the control of the 
University). As the number of such schools was fairly large, 
a method had to be devised for bringing them under control. This 
was done by prohibiting automatic transfers of pupils from un- 
recognised to recognised schools. As the Director of Public 
Instruction, Madras, observed: 

The rule was quite effective for the purpose; it closed to the 
pupils of the unrecognised schools admission to a recognised 
school and consequently to the Matriculation and Upper Secon- 
dary Examination, and under present conditions no secondary 
school which does not lead to one or other of these examina- 
tions can hope to succeed . 1 

Unrecognised secondary schools could not have hoped to thrive 
or even exist for long, in the face of this disability. Under the 
new system, recognition ceased to be a mere advantage ; it became 

1 Quinquennial Review of the Progress of Education in India , 1902-7, 
Vol. I, p. 71. 

a condition of existence and enabled the Department to bring 
almost all the secondary schools under its effective control and 

This new policy of control by the Department and University 
was criticised by Indian public opinion in much the same way 
in which the provisions of the Indian Universities Act were 
opposed. It was argued, for instance, that the attempt of 
Government to control private secondary schools was political 
in origin and was really intended to curb the growth of national 
feeling and private Indian enterprise. The political aspect of 
the problem need not be considered here. But even from the 
educational point of view, it would be difficult to justify the new 
policy in its entirety. It is, of course, true that the old policy 
of laissez-faire had outlived its utility, that it had often degenerated 
into licence, and that a more rigid control of private enterprise 
was generally needed. But all the same, the new policy swung 
the pendulum far too much to the other side. Control is necessary 
and, within limits, highly beneficial. But it can be easily exercised 
in excess and can thus lead to a rigid, mechanical, and uniform 
- system. This development was often noticeable in subsequent 
years and although, in certain cases, it may have arisen from 
other causes— such as lack of enterprise or initiative on the part 
of private entrepreneurs or lack of funds — it could be traced 
largely to the rigid grant-in-aid codes of this period and their 

The second object of Lord Curzon’s policy in secondary edu- 
cation was to improve the quality of instruction. With this end 
in view, he adopted the following measures: 

(c) Large grants were sanctioned to Provincial Governments in 
order to improve the efficiency of Government schools, so 
that they could serve as models to private enterprise. The 
additional amount thus made available was utilised in 
erecting buildings and hostels, improving the salaries of the 
staff and in purchasing necessary equipment, etc. 

(fe) Large funds were also sanctioned for increasing the grants- 
in-aid to private schools so as to enable them to come up 
to the standard of Government institutions. 

, (c) The necessity of training secondary teachers was emphasised 


262 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

and an impetus was given to the starting of new insti- 
tutions for the purpose. 

(d) Another, and a more vigorous, attempt was made to modify 
the curricula of the S. L. C. Examinations with a view to 
making them more useful and practical. 

( e ) was recommended that the mother-tongue of the pupil 
should be invariably used as the medium of instruction at 
the middle stage. An attempt should also be made at this 
stage to give the pupil a better mastery over the English 
language than had been possible hitherto, so that he could 
make better progress in the High School stage, where 
English was the medium of instruction. 

(/) The inspectorate was greatly strengthened, paid better and 
made more efficient so as to be able to exercise a rigorous 
control over secondary schools. 

This policy was continued and developed more fully after 
Curzon. We shall, therefore, examine it in greater detail in the 
next chapter. 

Lord Curzon’s Lead in Primary Education: Turning to the field 
of primary education, we find that Curzon’s policy was slightly 
different, he emphasised qugditjgzs against 

quantity. But in primary education he emphasised expansion side 
by side with improvement . On the first of these issues, he held 
the view (a) that the need for expansion of primary education 
was greater then than at any time in the past; (b) that the 
expansion of primary education had always been slow and that, 
if anything, the pace of expansion had become slower still since 
1882; and (c) that the principal cause of tho slow progress of 
primary education was the inadequacy of grants from Govern- 
ment funds. He, therefore, sanctioned large non-recurring grants 
to primary education in order to counteract the effects of plague 
and famine which affected most parts of the country towards the 
close of the nineteenth century. But what is even more important, 
he assigned large recurring grants to primary education which 
enabled the Provincial Government to raise the rate of grant-in 
aid to Local Boards and Municipalities from one- third to one - 
half of total expenditure and to pay better grants to private 


primary schools. This liberal policy at once led to a large increase 
in the number of primary schools and pupils. The following 
statistics compare the enrolment in primary schools for the years 
1881-82, 1901-2 and 1911-12: 




1 . Number of recognised primary 




2. Number of scholars in above j 




N.B . — Figures of all years include some Indian States and exclude Burma. 
The year 1911-12 is taken because the full effect of Curzon’s policy was 
noticeable only by this time. 

It will be seen that the increase in the enrolment of primary 
schools in the years from 1901-2 to 1911-12 was nearly twice 
the increase in the enrolment during the twenty years following 
the report of the Indian Education Commission. 

But wedded as he was to the doctrine of improvement, Curzon 
could not rest satisfied with mere increase in numbers. With a 
view to improving the quality of primary education, therefore, he 
recommended the following measures: 

(a) Training of Primary Teachers : Curzon emphasised the 

necessity of providing a larger number of training institutions for 
primary teachers, particularly in Bengal, where the percentage of 
trained teachers was low. He also directed that, as a rule, the 
total period of training should not be less than two years. But 
by far his greatest contribution to the subject to emphasise the 
training of rural primary teachers in elementary agriculture which 
he desired to be taught in all rural primary schools which were 
mostly attended by the children of agriculturists. 

( b ) Revision of Curricula : Curzon emphasised the necessity of 

imparting a liberal education in primary schools which would go 
as much beyond the three R’s as possible. He was not at all in 
favour of a move to simplify the curriculum which had been 
recommended by the Indian Education Commission. On the 
other hand, he desired an enrichment of the curriculum. Refer- 
ence has already been jpgde to bis desire to include agriculture 

264 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

as a subject of study in primary schools, particularly in those 
situated in rural areas. Moreover, he desired that the teaching of 
object lessons and the adoption of Kindergarten methods should 
become more common, especially where competent teachers were 
available, “as calculated to correct some of the inherent defects 
of the Indian intellect, to discourage exclusive reliance on the 
memory, and to develop a capacity for reasoning from observed 
facts”. Physical exercise was another subject which he desired 
to be made universal. But his most significant contribution to 
the curriculum problem was the view that the curricula of rural 
primary schools should be different from those of the urban ones 
and that the instruction in a rural primary school ought to be 
integrally related to the local environment. Curzon was aware 
that these qualitative reforms in primary education would involve 
a revision of the pay of primary teachers which varied greatly 
(from Rs. 5 per month in Bengal to about Rs. 18 per month in 
Bombay) and which was often too low to attract or retain a 
satisfactory class of persons in the profession. But he could not 
achieve much in this direction, partly for lack of time and partly 
for lack of funds. Consequently, the projected reforms of quality 
did not materialise appreciably, while the expansion he had aimed 
at soon became a fait accompli . 

(c) Abandoning of the System of Payment by Results : Conse- 
quent upon the recommendation of the Indian Education Com- 
mission, the system of payment by results was universally adopted, 
between 1882 and 1902, as a means (though not the only means) 
of assessing grants to private schools. In Madras and Bombay, 
well-managed primary schools were aided on a system of fixed 
grants; but the number of schools so aided was extremely small 
as compared with those aided on the system of payment by 
results. In Bengal, the result grant reigned supreme, while in the 
United Provinces, the Punjab, the Central Provinces, and, Assam 
the result grant was only a part of the annual grant to the school, 
the remanining being either fixed or dependent upon other tests. 
But in accordance with the policy of Lord Curzon, the system of 
payment by results was universally abandoned and replaced by 
more scientific and advanced methods of grant-in-aid. 

Other Educational Reforms of Lord Curzop: Lord Curzon carried 


out several important reforms some of which have been noted 

below: , 

(a) Schools of Art: The name of Lord Curzon is connected 

with the reforms of the Schools of Art, the great impetus given 
by him to the growth of agricultural education and with the 
institution of scholarships for technological studies abroad. Ever 
since 1893, controversies were going on regarding the future of 
Art schools in India. There was a section of opinion which 
believed that these schools had failed in their primary object of 
promoting Indian arts and industries and should, therefore, e 
closed. There was another section which recommended that they 
should be continued with certain modifications. This controversy 
was closed by Lord Curzon who directed that the school should 
be continued with certain modifications in their objects, met o s 

and organisation. . 

(b) Agricultural education had hardly developed in India e ore 
the days of Lord Curzon. There were a few Agricultural Colleges 
but they had not proved much of a success, either, in theory or 
in practice, because they had neither produced scientific experts 
nor succeeded in producing practical agriculturists. Lord. Curzon 
enunciated a new and bold policy in this respect. It was under 
him that the Agricultural Departments came to be organised. He 
also created a Central Research Institute at Pusa with the o ject 
of giving the training in agriculture in India itself; second y, 
he laid down the principle that every important province m India 
must have its own Agricultural College which should be properly 
staffed and equipped; thirdly, he directed that an attempt should 
be made to broadcast agricultural education among the people 
by introducing agriculture as a subject at the Middle and High 
School stage and by conducting special classes for the training ot 

agriculturists. „ 

(c) Foreign Scholarships: The third achievement of Lord Curzon 
was to institute scholarships for sending Indian students for 
technological studies abroad. The necessity of techno ogica 
education had long been felt; but the number of students, 1 e y 
to be attracted to technological institutions, was so small that 
it was not considered economic to organise them in India. or 
Curzon, therefore, instituted scholarships to be given to selected 
Students to enable them to pursue technological studies abroad, 




The courses selected for the purpose were generally such as would 
be of material use in developing Indian Industries. 
id) Moral Education: The question of religious education was 
iscusscd again at the Simla Conference. That the State schools 
should remain secular was so established a tradition now that it was 
not challenged at all. On the other hand, the suggestion made by 
the Indian Education Commission, 1882-83 to the effect that a 
moral primer or text-book should be prescribed in colleges was 
also brushed aside as inadequate. ‘If pupils can cram Euclid/ 
said Curzon, ‘there is nothing to prevent them from cramming 
ethics. 1 The Conference, therefore, took up the consideration of 
a very practical issue, v/z., how moral and spiritual values can be 
realised in an educational system that is bound to be secular. The 
view of Curzon’s administration on this topic were very sound 
and deserve a careful study. In his Resolution on Educational 
Policy (1904), he said: 

25. . . . In Government institutions the instruction is, and 
must continue to be, exclusively secular. In such cases the 
remedy for the evil tendencies noticed above is to be sought, 
not so much in any formal methods of teaching conduct by 
means of moral text-books or primers of personal ethics, as in 
the influence of carefully selected and trained teachers, the main- 
tenance of a high standard of discipline, the institution of well- 
managed hostels, the proper selection of text-books, such as 
biographies* which teach by example, and above all in the 
association of teachers and pupils in.the common interests of 
their daily life. 

On the other hand, Curzon believed that aided schools should 
preferably give religious education. 

(e) Creation of the Department of Archaeology : A really great 
contribution of Curzon to India was the creation of the Depart- 
ment of Archaeology. He found that the ancient monuments in 
India were not properly being cared for and, therefore, created a 
special department for the purpose. He was responsible for 
passing the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1904. This 
was a very valuable piece of work and the Department has done 

1 Lord Curzon in India , Vol. II ? p. $4. 

lord curzon 

yeoman service to Indian culture by its archaeological studies 
and by the efficient preservation of all important ancient 

(/) Appointment of a Director-General of Education in India : 
One of the greatest contributions of Curzon was to create the post 
of a Director-General of Education in India. The first official to 
hold it was H. W. Orange. The Despatch of 1854, it will be 
recalled, created Departments of Education in the Provinces; the 
credit of creating the first nucleus of such a Department in the 
Government of India goes to Curzon. 

Curzon’s Contribution to Indian Education: We are now in a 
position to estimate Curzon’s contribution to Indian education. 
In his own time, Curzon came in for very bitter criticism, for 
reasons already explained. But fortunately, we are no longer 
blinded by the controversies of this period. With her characteri- 
stic catholicity of heart, India has forgiven the insults which 
Curzon directed at her patriotic children, just as she forgave the 
vilifications of Charles Grant or Macaulay; and now that we can 
see the scene more clearly, it is possible to evaluate Curzon’s 
work in an objective and critical manner. In fact, the tide has 
already turned and the commonest sentiment towards him in edu- 
cational circlesjoday is one of appreciation and understanding. 
Curzon, it is now admitted, did yeoman service to the cause of 
education. He was the author of the great movement for edu- 
cational reconstruction which started in the beginning of this 
century. He laid th e foundation of the reform of Indian univer- 
si ties wh ich gathered such momentum in later years; his attempts 
to raise the standards in higher education did considerably useful 
service. In primary education, it was he who started a drive for 
expansion, although his successors did not keep it up. Agricultural 
education received a tremendous impetus at his hands and he was 
the founder of the Department of Archaeology in India. It was 
he who started the movements for Central responsibility in edu- 
cational finance and the creation of an Education Department in 
the Government of India. He was also responsible for greatly 
encouraging the study of the modern Indian languages. In short, 
it may be said of Curzon that he touched almost every aspect of 
Indian education and touched nothing that he did pot reform, 

268 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

Today , it is these services that India remembers and not his high- 
handed political policies. As Professor Amamath Jha put it: 

Now that the ashes of the numerous strifes are cold, all 
Indians are grateful to the wise statesmanship of the great Vice- 
roy who did so much to preserve our ancient monuments and 
raise our educational standards. By these achievements he 
still lives, and generations of Indians will bless him for them. 1 

1 Ronaldshay: op. tft., Vol. II, p. 390. 

Chapter Eight 

A Period of Transition 

Lord Curzon left India in 1905; and in order to lull the storms 
created by his administration, certain of his policies were reversed 
by later Viceroys. For instance, his partition of Bengal was 
undone in deference to popular opinion; the educated intelligentsia 
began to receive more sympathetic and respectful treatment at the 
hands of the bureaucrary; and although Curzon had consistently 
refused to make concessions to educated Indians by giving them 
seats in Councils, his successor was farsighted enough to introduce 
the well-known Morley-Minto Reforms of 1909 under which a 
much greater representation in Legislative Councils was vouchsafed 
to the Indian people than at any time in the past. But in so far 
as education is concerned, hardly any of Curzon’s policies were 
abandoned; in fact most of them were continued with even greater 
zeafthan that of Curzon himself. The Indian public, of course, 
continued to oppose them. But the opposition could never reach 
the magnitude of the struggle over the Indian Universities Bill, 
except probably in the discussion over Gokhale’s bill for compul- 
sory education. This lessening of the violence of opposition was 
due to several reasons such as (a) the generally sympathetic 
attitude now adopted by Government as opposed to Curzon’s 
insolence; (A) the official acceptance of some of the views of the 
opposition; (c) the ever-increasing absorption of public attention 
in politics which left little time for educational reform; and ( d ) the 
organisation of the schemes of national education without any 
reference to the official machinery. But despite this lowering down 
of the tempo of the opposition the major conflicts between official 
and non-official policies in education continued to be substantially 
the same even after the departure of Lord Curzon. The events 
of the period 1905 to 1921 can, therefore, be conveniently studied 
against the background of Curzon’s plans of educational recon- 
struction in India. 


The swings of the pendulum in official policies between 1 882 
(when the Report of the Indian Education Commission was 
submitted) and 1921 (when education was transferred to Indian 
control under the Government of India Act, 1919) are worth 
noting. Between 1882 and 1900, Government adopted a laissez- 
faire policy, freedom to private enterprise and even 

i a,ke ? Of withdrawing from the field completely by transferring its 
own institutions also to private control. This policy was reversed 
by Lord Curzon who tried, between 1901 and 1905, to assume 
larger initiative to the State and to control private enterprise. 
This move, as has been pointed out earlier, was politically motiva- 
ted» an ^ although it was a step in the right direction, it could not 
be justified because of the alien character of Government. These 
policies were continued between 1905 and 1921. But as time 
passed, it became more and more difficult to support proposals of 
vesting additional control and powers over education in a govern- 
ment which was not responsible to public opinion. Steps were, 
therefore, taken under the Government of India Act, 1919, to 
transfer education to Indian control by __placing it under Indian 
Ministers responsible to a legislature which had a majority of 
elected Indian representative . 

Government Resolution on Educational Policy (1913)— University 
Education: It did not take long for people to recognise that the 
Indian Universities Act, 1904, could not achieve much; while 
conserving the work done by the Act, therefore, it was felt equally 
necessary to broaden the policy of Government in the matter of 
university education. This movement was also considerably 
strengthened through influences from England. The period of 
1903-13 is of great importance in the history of British universities. 
During this period, the fundamental problems of University orga- 
nisation were brought under review in England and expert opinion 
came to the conclusion that the federal type of university was not 
satisfactory because it was difficult to work and not conducive to 
rapid progress. The federal type of organisation was, therefore 
abandoned by about 1913 and most British Universities were 
reconstituted (wherever necessary) as unitary, teaching and resi- 
ential organisations. These developments had their echo in 
dia also and Government had, therefore, to review the question 


almost within a decade of the passing of the Universities Act of 
1904. This was done in the Government Resolution on Edu- 
cational Policy, dated 21st February 1913, which declared that a 
university would be established for each Province, that teaching 
activities of univerities would be encouraged, and that the colleges 
located in mofussil towns would be developed into teaching uni- 
versities in due course. But no action glong the lines indicated 
herein was taken by Government partly because it was believed 
that an expert enquiry into the question was essential before any 
definite steps could be taken and partly because of the outbreak 
of the Great World War. 

The Calcutta University. Commission: (1917-19): In 1917, 
Government appointed the Calcutta University Commission to 
study and report on the problem. This is also known as the 
Sadler Commission from its President, Dr. (later Sir) M. E. Sadler, 
the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds. The other mem- 
bers of the Commission were Dr. Gregory, Mr. (later Sir) Philip 
Hartog, Professor Ramsay ' Muir, Sir Asutosh Mookerji, the 
Director'of Public Instruction, Bengal, and Dr. (later Sir) Zia-ud- 
din Ahmad. The report of the Commission is a document of 
interprovincial importance. Although it deals with the Calcutta 
University only, the problems that it has studied are more or less 
common to the other Indian universities. Hence, the report of 
the Commission had far-reaching consequences upon the develop- 
ment of university education in India as a whole. 

The main recommendations of the Commission have been 
noted below: 

(a) We have seen that the Commissions of 1882 and 1902 could 
not do full justice to the subject of higher education because the 
first was precluded from reporting on the universities and the 
second was precluded from studying the problems of secondary 
education. The Calcutta University Commission, on the other 
hand, studied the problems of secondary education as well as those 
of university teaching because it held the view that improvement 
of secondary education was an essential foundation for the impro- 
vement of university teaching itself. The Commission, therefore, 
made radical recommendations regarding the reorganisation of 
secondary schools. These may be briefly stated as under: 


(f) The dividing line between the university and secondary 
courses is more properly drawn at the Intermediate examination 
than at the Matriculation. 

(ii) Government should, therefore, create a new type of ins- 
titutions called the Intermediate Colleges which would provide 
for instruction in Arts, Science, Medicine, Engineering, Teaching, 
etc. These colleges might either be run as independent institu- 
tions or might be attached to selected high schools. 

(iw) The admission test for universities should be the passing 
of the Intermediate examination. 

(iv) A Board of Secondary and Intermediate Education con- 
sisting of the representatives of Government, University, High 
Schools, and Intermediate Colleges should be established and 
entrusted with the administration and control of secondary 

The fate of this proposal will be discussed in Chapter IX. 

(£) The Commission came to the conclusion that the numbers 
of colleges and students under the Calcutta University were too 
great to be dealt with by a single organisation. The Commission, 
therefore, recommended that, 

(i) a unitary teaching university should be established 
immediately at Dacca; 

(ii) the teaching resources of the Calcutta City should be 
pooled together with a view to the establishment of a teaching 
university at Calcutta; and 

(iii} the colleges in the mofussil should be so developed as to 
make it possible to encourage the gradual rise of new university 
centres by the concentration of resources for higher teaching at 
a few points. 

The first recommendation was carried out in 1920. The second 
and third recommendations have yet remained a pious hope. 

, (c) The Commission made the following general recommenda- 
tions regarding University work: 

(i) The regulations governing the work of the universities 

should be made less rigid; 


(ii) Honours courses; as distinct from pass courses, should be 
instituted in the universities in order to make provision for the 
needs of abler students; 

(Hi) The duration 1 * of the degree course should be three years 
after the intermediate stage; 

(iv) Appointments to professorships and readerships should 
be made by special selection committees, including external 

(v) Having regard to the comparatively backward condition 
of the Muslim community in regard to education, every reason- 
able means should be taken to encourage Muslim students and 
to safeguard their interests; 

(v/) In view of the necessity for paying greater attention to 
the health and physical welfare of students, a Director of 
Physical Training, holding the rank and salary of a 
professor, should be appointed in each university; a Board of 
Students 5 Welfare, including medical representatives, should be 
one of the standing boards or committees of each university; 
and special efforts should be made to supervise the conditions 
of students’ residence. 

{d) On several other questions, the Commission made important 
recommendations some of which are summarised below: 

(i) Female Education : Purdah schools should be organised 
for Hindu and Muslim girls whose parents are willing to extend 
their education to 15 or 16; a Special Board of Women’s Edu- 
cation should be established in the Calcutta University and 
should be empowered to propose special courses of study more 
particularly suited for women, and to organise co-operative 
arrangements for teaching in the women’s colleges, more parti- 
cularly for the training of teachers, and in preparation for 
medical courses. 

(ii) Training of Teachers : The output of trained teachers 
should be substantially increased; Departments of Education 
should be created in the Universities of Dacca and Calcutta; 
Education should be included as a subject for the Intermediate, 
B. A. and M.A. degree examinations. 

(iii) Technology : It is an important and, indeed, a necessary 



function of a university to include applied science and technology 
in its courses and to recognise their systematic and practical 
study by degrees and diplomas. 

( ,v ) Professional and Vocational Training : The Universities 
must make provision for the efficient training of personnel 
needed for the industrial development of the country. 

Creation of New Universities: The Government Resolution on Edu- 
cational Policy dated 21st February 1913, and the report of the 
Calcutta University Commission, 1917-19, led to the creation of a 
large number of new universities in the period 1917-22? It may be 
noted here that, after the incorporation of the Allahabad Univer- 
sity in 1887, no new university was established in India till 1916, 
and that during these 30 years there had occurred a tremendous 
rise in the number of colleges and of students attending them. 
The work of the existing universities had, therefore, increased con- 
siderably. The decision to start several new universities was 
therefore, a wise, if belated, move. It was further strengthened 
by the desire of the people themselves to have a larger number of 
universities and to found teaching and residential universities 
wherever possible. The result of this joint effort was that the 
number of universities in India increased from five in 1916 to 
twelve 1 in 1921-22! The following brief notes are offered here on 
the new universities so created: 

'/(a) Mysore: A university of the affiliating type was established 
at Mysore in 1916 for the area of the State itself. The incorpora- 
tion of this university led to a considerable dimunition in the work 
done by the Madras University. 

(h) Patna : A university was established at Patna in 1917 for 
the Province of Bihar and Orissa. This university was generally 
modelled on the older universities but its constitution showed cer- 
tain deviations from the model of 1904. It is interesting to note 
these deviations because they show how Government had to yield 
finally to the demands of Indian public opinion which had been 
summarily ignored in 1904. 

^The University of Delhi has been excluded. Its Act of Incorporation 
was passed in March 1922, but it was enforced from May 1922. The history 
of this University is, therefore, treated in Chapter XI as part of the next 


An important deviation from the provisions of the Act of 1904 
it that whereby Government is deprived of its independent judg- 
ment regarding affiliation and disaffiliation of colleges, its 
cower of final decision is limited tojhose cases which have been 
forwarded with the approval of the Syndicate and the Senate. 
The powers of Government are curtailed in other ways also and 
oopular control is increased. It is not expressly stated that the 
Vice-Chancellor shall be a whole-time officer of the university 
(though the first Vice-Chancellor’does fulfil this condition). The 
nominated element in the Senate is cut down to a maximum of 
25 members and the element raised to a maximum of 50. In 
addition to the registered graduates, new electorates have been 
introduced— the teaching staff of colleges, graduate teachers of 

schools, associations and public bodies. The Syndicate contains 

four ex-officio members and 14 elected by the Senate, of whom 
at least seven must be on the staff of the university or the 
colleges. Hence, while it will be preponderatingly professorial 
(the ex-officio members being the Vice-Chancellor, the Director 
and the principals of the two chief colleges) the nominated ele- 
ment is eliminated from the Syndicate. 1 

V( C ) Bernards : A teaching and residential university was esta- 
blished at Banaras by an Act of 1915 and began its operations 
in 1917. This university is known popularly as the Banaras 
Hindu University, and owes its existence to the great work of 
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. 

. (J) Aligarh : Similar in objects is the Muslim University 
at Aligarh which was established in 1920. This university stands 
in the same relation to the Muslims as the Banaras University 
does to the Hindus. It grew out of the Mahomedan Anglo- 
Oriental College at Aligarh whose history was narrated in Chapter 
V. The university is a living memorial to the great work of the 
late Sir Syed Ahmed. 

Both these denominational universities are directly under 
the Government of India. It must also be noted that 
both the Universities are open to students of all castes and 


. 1 QuinquenrtiaI Review (1912-17), Vol. I, P> 69. 


Ae) Dacca: A unitary, teaching, and residential university was 
established at Dacca in 1920. 

vf/) Lucknow: A university was established at Lucknow in 

1920. Its constitution and organisation closely follow the model 
recommended by the Calcutta University Commission, 
v'tg) Osmania: The Osmania University was established at 
Hyderabad (Deccan) by H.E.H. the Nizam in 1918. It holds 
a unique place among the universities of India because the 
medium of instruction in the university is Urdu and not English. 

In . addition to the incorporation of the seven universities 
mentioned above, Government also reconstituted the Allahabad 
University on the Dacca model in 1921, with this important 
difference that in addition to the teaching and residential side, the 
Allahabad University also had an external side comprising a 
number of colleges situated in the United Provinces, the Central 
Provinces, Central India and Rajputana.. These colleges were 
formerly affiliated to the University; but under the Act of 1921 
they came to be known as associated colleges. 

Financial Assistance to Universities (1905-21): Lord Curzon, as 
already stated, sanctioned a grant of Rs. 5 lakhs a year for 
universities and collegiate education, for a period of 5 years only 
in the first instance. This grant was later on made a permanent 
recurring grant and a sum of Rs. 1,35,000 out of it was assigned 
for university education. Over and above this, Government, in 
1911-12, sanctioned a non-recurring grant of Rs. 16,00,000 and a 
recurring grant of Rs. 2,55,000 for university education. This 
policy of liberal financial assistance was continued in the quinquen- 
nium of 1912-17, when non-recurring grants to the tune of 
Rs. 43 lakhs were sanctioned. Moreover, the recurring grant 
paid to the Calcutta University for the Minto Chair of Economics 
since 1910 was raised from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 13,000 in 1913. 
A grant of Rs. 12,000 a year was also sanctioned in 1914-15 to 
the Bombay University for instituting a Chair of Economics and 
Sociology. Annual recurring grants of Rs. 1,00,000 each were 
sanctioned for the Banaras and Aligarh Universities. Large non- 
recurring grants were also sanctioned for the newly created 
universities. It may be pointed out that in 1900-1, the only 
Government grant to universities was that of Rs. 29,380 paid to 


the Punjab University and the total expenditure of the universities 
was Rs. 7,21,000. But in 1921-22, Government grant to univer- 
sities rose to Rs. 20,54,000 and their total expenditure to 
Rs. 74,13,000. 

^ Teaching Work done by the Universities (1905-21): As may be 
easily anticipated, the large financial resources which the univer- 
sities came to possess due to Government grants and improvement 
in the revenue from other sources, not only enabled them to erect 
buildings and maintain or expand libraries and laboratories, but 
also to undertake teaching activities. Of the twelve Indian 
universities that existed in 1921, five were purely teaching univer- 
sities. The University of Allahabad, as has been pointed out 
above, was a teaching as well as an affiliating university. The 
remaining six universities were mainly of an affiliating type 
although they undertook some teaching work also. 

This teaching work of the affiliating universities took one or 
more of the following three forms: 

(а) organisation of special series of lectures by eminent men 
of learning, invited to visit the university from other parts 
of India or from abroad, or 

(б) institution of university chairs in certain subjects, or 

(c) the establishment of honours schools or post-graduate 
classes directly conducted by the university. 

The delivery of courses of lectures by distinguished scholars 
was a particular feature of the work of the Calcutta, Madras and 
Punjab Universities. Chairs in various subjects such as Sociology, 
History, Economics, etc., were also established by several Indian 
universities. The Punjab University organised the system of 
Honours Schools in which the teaching was controlled by a 
whole-time officer of the university entitled the Dean of University 
Instruction and where an attempt was made “to give an improved 
type of instruction, with some personal contact between teacher 
and pupil and lesser recourse to lectures and text-books, to the 
abler minority among the students in the belief that this improved 
teaching, though in the first instance limited to a minority, will 
in the long run react on the spirit and methods of teaching 

278 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

throughout affiliated colleges of the University”. 1 Similarly, the 
Calcutta University organised a post-graduate department and 
took over to itself all teaching for the M.A. except in a few 
colleges in the mofussiL 

During this period, a view began to gain ground that the purely 
affiliating universities created in 1857 were a mistake and that 
the best type of university for the country would be unitary, 
teaching and residential. This view became particularly pro- 
nounced after the Report of the Calcutta University Commission. 
But owing to paucity of resources, the creation of such universities 
on any large scale was ruled out and the affiliating university 
continued to dominate the scene. As a via media, however, 
emphasis now came to be placed on enabling and helping 
affiliating universities to take up teaching work. Although this 
was no substitute for a unitary teaching university, it had an 
undoubted value in providing facilities of good education through 
the university departments and in improving the tone of 
instruction in the affiliated colleges. 

Development of Colleges of General Education between 1905 and 
1921: This period, as we saw in the last chapter, began with a 
movement for the reform of collegiate education with the passing 
of the Indian Universities Act of 1904. We have also seen how 
the strict conditions of affiliation imposed by this Act made it 
difficult for new colleges to come into existence and how they even 
led to the elimination of a number of existing ones. 

Another notable feature of this period was the great improve- 
ment that was brought about in the standard of collegiate educa- 
tion. The colleges of this period were generally better staffed, 
better equipped, and better housed than those of the earlier period. 
As stated in the last chapter, this was partly due to the stricter 
conditions of affiliation imposed by the Act of 1904. The mai n 
cause, however, was the improvement in the finances of collegiate 
institutions due to increased receipts by way of fees, more endow- 
ments and subscriptions, and larger grants from Government. 

The most important source of revenue to the colleges is that 
of fees. During the period under review, there was a considerable 
increase in the income from this source partly because of the 

Quinquennial Review of the Progress of Education in India, 1917-22, p. 62, 


raising of fees and partly because of the increase in the number 
of students. In 1901-2, the incidence of fees per student was 
Rs. 57 per annum. whereas it rose to Rs. 84 per annum in 1921-22. 
Secondly, the average strength of the college which was 123 in 
1901-2 increased to 263 in 1921-22. The combined effects of 
these causes led to an increase in the income from fees thus 
enabling the managers to take effective steps to improve their 

Similarly, the income from endowments and subscriptions 
increased considerably during the period under review and 
Government also came forward with larger grants. A grant of 
Rs. 5 lakhs a year was sanctioned by the Government of India 
from 1905 onwards for the improvement of the universities. Out 
of this a sum of Rs. 13.5 lakhs was devoted to the improvement 
of collegiate education in the first five years. The grant was 
then made a permanent recurring grant and out of it a sum of 
Rs. 3,65,000 a year was earmarked for collegiate education. 

In the quinquennium of 1907-12, a further recurring grant 
of Rs. 2.45 lakhs was sanctioned by the Government of India for 
improvement of colleges. Moreover, Government gave large 
non-recurring grants, particularly for the construction of hostels. 
Another recurring grant of Rs. 2.84 lakhs was made in the next 
quinquennium. In 1921-22, the total Government expenditure 
on collegiate institutions of general education was Rs. 49.26 lakhs, 
of which an amount of Rs. 15.28 lakhs was given as grant-in-aid 
to private colleges. 1 

It must also be noted that, by 1921-22, the system of 
collegiate education developed some serious defects and became 
top-heavy, predominantly literary, and unhelpful for the industrial 
and commercial regeneration of the country. This result was the 
logical conclusion of some aspects of the policy outlined in the 
Despatch of 1854, viz., ( a ) the spread of Western knowledge and 
science, (b) the training of Indians in such professions as will 
may* them good employees of Government, and (c) the develop- 
ment of a system which will make India the supplier of raw 
materials to, and the purchaser of the finished products of, 
British industries. Perhaps the best comment on these defects 

lpigures for Arts, Science and Oriental Colleges in British India only. 

(Figures for Burma are included.) 



can be found in the following passage from the report of the 
Calcutta University Commission. The figures quoted in the 
extract are of 1917 and of Bengal only. But the picture they 
present is true of India as a whole: 

One of the most remarkable features in the recent history of 
Bengal, and indeed, of India, has been the very rapid increase 
in the number of university students which has taken place during 
the last two decades, and more especially since the Universities 
Act of 1904. In 1904, 2,430 candidates presented them- 
selves for the intermediate examination of the University of 
Madras, 457 for that of Bombay, and 3,832 for that of Calcutta. 
These numbers in themselves were striking enough, considering 
that the universities were in 1904 less than fifty years old. But 
the numbers in 1917 were 5,424 for Madras, 1,281 for Bombay, 
and no less than 8,020 for Calcutta. This means that while 
the increase in numbers has everywhere been striking, it has 
been much greater in Bengal than in any other part of India; 
nor is it easy to find any parallel to it in any part of the world. 
The flood of candidates for university training has put so heavy 
a strain upon the university and its colleges as to lead almost to 
a breakdown. It has brought out in high relief every deficiency 
of the system. And if justice is to be done to a great opportu- 
nity, and the eagerness of young Bengalis for academic training 
is to be made as advantageous to their country as it ought to 
be, it has become manifest that bold and drastic rhangps 
and improvements in the system are necessary. 

2. The full significance of these facts can perhaps be most 
clearly brought out by a comparison between Bengal and the 
United Kingdom. The populations of the two countries are 
almost the same — about 45,000,000. By a curious coincidence 
the number of students preparing for university degrees is also 
almost the same — about 26,000. But since in Bengal only 
about one in ten of the population can read and write, the 
proportion of the educated classes of Bengal who are taking 
full-time university courses is almost ten times as great as in the 
United Kingdom. 

3. Nor is this the most striking part of the contrast. The 
figures for the United Kingdom include students drawn from all 


parts of the British Empire, including Bengal itself; those of 
Bengal are purely Indian. Again, in the United Kingdom a 
substantial proportion of the student population consists of 
women; in Bengal, the number of women-students is— and in 
view of existing social conditions is likely long to remain — very * 
small indeed. Still more important, in the United Kingdom a 
very large proportion of the student-population are following 
professional courses, in medicine, law, theology, teaching, 
engineering or technical science. In Bengal, though the number 
of students of law is very great, the number of medical students 
is much smaller than in the United Kingdom; there are very few 
students of engineering; students of theology, whether Hindu 
or Islamic, do not study for university degrees; students of 
teaching are extraordinarily few; and there are, as yet practically 
no students of technical science, because the scientific industries 
of Bengal are in their infancy, and draw their experts mainly 
from England. 

4. It appears, therefore, that while an enormously higher 
proportion of the educated male population of Bengal proceeds 
to University studies than is the case in the United Kingdom, a 
very much smaller proportion goes to the University for what 
is ordinarily described as vocational training. The great 
majority over 22,000 out of 26,000 pursue purely literary courses 
which do not fit them for any but administrative, clerical, 
teaching and (indirectly) legal careers. In the United Kingdom 
(if the training of teachers be regarded as vocational training) it 
is possible that these proportions would be nearly reversed. A 
comparison with any other large and populous state would yield 
smaller results. Bengal is unlike any other civilised country 
in that so high a proportion of its educated classes set before 
them a University degree as the natural goal of ambition, and 
seek this goal by means of studies which are almost purely 
literary in character, and which therefore provide scarcely any 
direct professional training. 1 

Secondary Education (1905-21): This period witnessed an un- 
precedented expansion in secondary education and in 1921-22, the 
number of secondary schools rose to 7,530 (with 11,06,803 pupils) 
^ol. I, pp. 19-21. 


as against 5,124 schools (with 5,90,129 pupils). This expansion 
was achieved mainly through private Indian enterprise and was 
due to the great social and political awakening of these days. 

Throughout the period, however, the official attempts aimed, 
not at quantity, but at quality and the best statement of the official 
view can be seen in the following paragraph of the Government 
Resolution on Educational Policy (1913): 

22. Subject to the necessities of variation in deference to 
local conditions the policy of the Government of India in regard 
to secondary English schools is 

(1) to improve the few existing Government schools by 

(a) employing only graduates or trained teachers; 

(Z>) introducing a graded service for teachers of English 
with a minimum salary of Rs. 40 per month and a 
maximum salary of Rs. 400 per month; 

(c) providing proper hostel accommodation; 

(d) introducing a school course complete in itself with a 
staff sufficient to teach what may be called the modern 
side with special attention to the development of an 
historical and a geographical sense; 

(i e ) introducing manual training and improving science 

(2) To increase largely the grant-in-aid, in order that aided 
institutions may keep pace with the improvements in government 
schools on the above-mentioned lines, and to encourage the 
establishment of new aided institutions where necessary. 

(3) To multiply and improve training colleges so that 
trained teachers may be available for public and private 

(4) To found government schools in such localities as 
may, on a survey of local conditions and with due regard 
to economy of educational effort and expense, be proved to 
require them. 

This statement of policy consists of four parts: the second 
and third parts are the coutinuation of the policy recommended 
by the Indian Education Commission. The fourth part is merely 


a reiteration of an exception to the general policy of withdrawal — 
an exception which had been foreseen and admitted to be neces- 
sary by the Commission itself. 

V (a) The Theory of Model Institutions : But the first part 
marks a clear departure from the policy recommended by the 
Commission. It was pointed out in Chapter V that the Commis- 
sion had recommended the withdrawal of Government from direct 
management of educational institutions. This recommendation 
had not been acted upon, but it still remained the declared official 
policy. The Government Resolution of 1913, however, definitely 
abandoned this policy and stated that it was the duty of Govern- 
ment to maintain its existing institutions as “models” to private 
enterprise. The necessity and utility of this departure from the 
old policy was often challenged. To begin with, it was pointed 
out that this policy came in the way of larger grants to private schools . 
In an attempt to make “models’* of its institutions. Govern- 
ment had to spend large amounts on the few institutions main- 
tained by it, and consequently the more numerous private 

I secondary schools did not obtain that assistance from Govern- 
ment to which they were entitled on the strength of numbers 
and which was held out to them in para. 22(2) of the Government 
Resolution quoted above. Moreover, Indian public opinion 
often questioned the expediency of maintaining “model” institu- 
tions. It was said, for instance, that the improvement of private 
schools was mainly a question of funds and that private schools 
remained inefficient because they did not have adequate financial 
resources and not because there was not a model institution to 
which they might look up for inspiration and guidance. It was, 
therefore, urged that Government should close its institutions and 
use the funds so saved for giving larger grants to private schools 
in order to enable them to increase their efficiency. 

(b) Provision of Vocational Courses : As in the earlier periods, 
attempts continued to be made, even in these years, to provide 
alternative examinations to the Matriculation and to divert 
students into various walks of life. As in the past, these attempts 
did not succeed, although they led to some enrichment of 
the curriculum and reform of the examination system. 

% A pertinent question that arises here is this: what were the 
causes that led to the failure to all attempts, made since 1882, 



to provide alternative examinations to the Matriculation so as to 
divert students into various walks of life? The following 
answer may be suggested to this question: 

(0 The measures that ought to have been adopted for the 
introduction of vocational or pre-vocational courses at the upper 
secondary stage were the following: 

(1) Preparing carefully planned schemes of vocational instruc- 
tion in consultation with the representatives of employers 
of educated labour, such as Banks, Railways, Commercial 
Firms, etc. 

(2) Providing for the teaching of these courses in Government 

(3) Awarding special grants to private schools in order to 
enable them adequately to staff and equip their schools for 
teaching such courses; 

(4) Conducting special institutions for training teachers required 
for these special courses; and 

(5) Developing the trade and industries of the country with 
a view to creating more openings for the pupils educated in 
these special courses. 

(ii) But these measures —some of which, at any rate, had been 
visualised by the Indian Education Commission— were not 
adopted. On the other hand, the real problem at issue got side- 
tracked by the belief that an alternative examination would meet all 
the needs of the situation . It was to the creation of such an exa- 
mination that most of the efforts were directed between 1882 
and 1921. 

(m) These attempts did not, therefore, succeed in introducing 
vocational or pre-vocational education, although they led to some 
enrichment of the secondary course and to some reforms in the 
method of examinations. 

(iv) On the other hand, it must be admitted that there was no 
keen demand from the public for the introduction of vocational 
courses and that the attempts made at introducing them often 
became unpopular. This was due to several causes among which 
the following may be mentioned: 


(1) Until very late in this period, the problem of educated 
unemployment had not become serious. It was still possible 
for a person with a knowledge of English to get some em- 
ployment either under Government or in private schools or 
trade. In other words, a knowledge of English led to 
employment and was, therefore, still equivalent to vocational 
training ; and so long as this situation did not alter, real 
vocationl training did not have much chance of becoming 

(2) The pupils of upper secondary standards came mostly 
from the middle-classes (from the economic stand-point) 
who were accustomed for centuries to live by intellectual 
work rather than by manual labour. It was not surprising 
that these pupils did not take kindly to manual work and 
vocational training. 

(3) Lastly, the lack of provision of hand-work, etc., at the 
primary and lower secondary stage proved to be another 
obstacle to the introduction of vocational courses at the 
upper secondary stage. Children who were brought 
up in an entirely bookish curriculum could not naturally be 

1 expected to take kindly to manual work in the tenth year of 
study. What was really needed was a good deal of the 
doing element in the school course right from its very 

(c) Improvements in the Teaching of English : It was shown in 
Chapter VI that by 1902, the teaching of English became the 
prime object of the secondary course. This exaggerated impor- 
tance attached to the study of English continued throughout the 
period under review and various means were employed to improve 
the teaching of English. Newer methods of teaching, such as the 
direct method, were introduced; as far as possible, only trained 
teachers were appointed to teach English; the teaching of English 
in the lower standards was put in the hands of the most compe- 
tent teachers available in the school; prescription of text-books or 
their abolition, the raising of the minimum percentage of marks 
required for passing, adoption of stricter standards of examina- 
tion, etc., were also tried. But if the reports of examiners are 
any guide to the attainments of candidates, the standard of 


286 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

English in 1921-22 was not much different from that of 1901-2. 
In fact, one . cannot help feeling that the educationists of this 
period were attempting an impossible task. They wanted to give 
everyone who came to the secondary school a command over the 
English language. This was not possible except for a small 
minority, and, therefore, the emphasis on a command over English 
practically meant torture for the average pupil. It took up a 
good deal of his time; it hindered the proper study of liberal 
subjects in the curriculum; and for all the efforts that he made to 
master the alien language, he was left with a very inadequate 
sense of achievement. 

(d) Medium of Instruction : This exaggerated importance 
attached to a command over English considerably hindered the 
movement for the use of modern Indian languages as media of 
instruction at the secondary stage. We have seen already how 
Curzon directed that the modern Indian languages should be used 
as media in the lower secondary standards. His recommendations 
were generally carried out during the period under review; and by 
1921-22, the modern Indian languages came generally to be used 
as the media of instruction at the middle school stage. But the 
question of abandoning the use of English as the medium at the 
high school stage was again left undecided. 

(e) Training of Teachers : Better results, however, could be 
obtained in the field of the training of teachers for secondary 
schools. Reference has already been made to the momentous 
declaration of Lord Curzon which initiated a new era in the train- 
ing of secondary teachers. By 1912, there were 15 training 
institutions for teachers in secondary schools which afforded 
instruction to nearly 1,400 students. The Government Resolution 
on Educational Policy, 1913, marked a still further advance by 
stating that “eventually under modern systems of education no 
teacher should be allowed to teach without a certificate that he has 
qualified to do so”. It also stated that Government wished to 
multiply and improve training colleges so that trained teachers 
might be available for public and private institutions. Consequently, 
the period 1904-21 marked a great advance in respect of the 
facilities for the training of secondary teachers. In 1921-22, the 
number of Training Colleges for secondary (English) teachers had 
increased to 13 as against 6 in 1904. 


The achievements of the period 1902-21 in secondary education, 
therefore, were both qualitative as well as quantitative. During 
these two decades, the number of secondary schools and scholars 
rose very considerably. At the same time, there was a marked 
improvement in quality due mainly to stricter conditions of 
recognition, increase in expenditure from all sources, and a larger 
output of trained teachers. The main problems that yet remained 
to be solved were (*) the adoption of modern Indian languages as 
the media of instruction at the High School stage, and (u) the pro- 
vision of vocational or pre-vocational courses. It was to the solution 
of these that attempts were directed in the next period (i.e., 1921- 
37) the narrative of which will be resumed in the next chapter. 

Gokhale’s Attempts for Compulsory Primary Education (1910-12): 
As stated earlier Lord Curzon had initiated a new policy of larger 
grants to primary education which had brought about a consider- 
able expansion of primary education between 1905 and 1912. 
But the official preference for qualitative improvement soon began 
to make itself felt and Government, instead of accepting the 
principle of compulsory primary education, began to occupy itself 
moreand more with qualitative improvements. This development 
was not liked by Indian national ist opinion q fojgh began to press 
Government for the introduction of compulsory education. This 
demand was further strengthened by the fact that the Gaekwar of 
Baroda introduced compulsory education throughout his State in 
1906. The public were not slow to point out that what was done 
by the Gaekwar for his State, may easily be done by the British 
Government for its own territories. The great exponent of this 
demand was Shri G. K. Gokhale. 

Between 1910 and 1913 Gokhale made heroic efforts to make 
Government accept the principle of compulsory primary education. 
On 19th March 191^, he moved the following resolution in the 
Imperial Legislative Council: 

That this Council recommends that a beginning should be 
made in the direction of making elementary education free and 
compulsory throughout the country and that a mixed com- 
mission of officials and non-officials be appointed at an early 
date to frame definite proposals. 



The resolution was withdrawn on an assurance from Govern- 
ment that the whole question would be examined most carefully. 
But on 16th March 1911, Gokhale returned to the attack and 
introduced his bill to make better provision for the extension of 
elementary education which embodied most of the proposals of his 
speech dated 19th March 1910. This bill was based mainly on 
the Compulsory Education Acts of England, 1870 and 1876, and 
on the Irish Education Act of 1892, The following quotation 
from the statement of objects and reasons gives a clear idea of the 
main features of the bill: 

The object of this Bill is to provide for the gradual introduc- 
tion of the principle of compulsion into the elementary educa- 
tion system of the country. The experience of other countries 
has established beyond dispute the fact that the only effective 
way to ensure a wide diffusion of elementary education among 
the mass of the people is by a resort to compulsion in some 
form or the other. And the time has come when a beginning 
at least should be made in this direction in India. The Bill is 
of a purely permissive character and its provisions will apply 
to areas notified by municipalities or district boards which will 
have to bear such proportion of the increased expenditure 
which will be necessitated, as may be laid down by the Govern- 
ment of India, by rules. Moreover, no area can be notified 
without the previous sanction of the Provincial Government 
and further it must fulfil the test which the Government of 
India may, by rules, lay down as regards the percentage of 
children already at school within its limits. Finally the pro- 
visions are intended to apply in the first instance only to boys, 
though later on a local body may extend them to girls; and age 
limits proposed are only six and ten years. It is hoped that 
these are sufficient safeguards against any rash or injudicious 
one, indeed to some it may appear to err too much on the side 
of caution. 

The bill was circulated for opinion and came up for discussion 
again on the 17th of March 1912. The debate lasted for two 
days, and it became evident that Government was not then pre- 
pared to accept even a modest bill like this. As the official 


members were in a clear majority in the Central Legislature of that 
time, and as a number of non-official members also were opposed 
to it for some reason or the other, the bill had no chance of 
success. All the eloquent pleading of Gokhale, therefore, went 
in vain and when the motion to refer the bill to the Select Com- 
mittee was put to vote, it was thrown out by 38 votes against 1 3 
This did not, of course, come as a surprise to anybody, least of 
all to Gokhale himself. He had read the situation correctly and, 
earlier in the debate, had already referred to the expected result 
of the voting in the following majestic words: 

My Lord, I kno* that my Bill will be thrown out before the 
day closes, I make no complaint. I shall not even feel 
depressed. I know too well the story of the preliminary efforts 
that were required even in England, before the Act of 1870 was 
passed, either to complain or to feel depressed. Moreover, I 
have always felt and have often said that we, of the present 
generation in India, can only hope to serve our country by our 
failures. The men and women who will be privileged to serve 
her by their successes will come later. We must be content to 
accept cheerfully the place that has been allotted to us in our 
onward march. The Bill, thrown out today, will come back 
again and again, till on the stepping s ones of its dead selves, 
a measure ultimately rises which will spread the light of know- 
ledge throughout the land. It may be that this anticipation 
will not come true. It may be that our efforts may not conduce 
even indirectly to the promotion of the great cause which we 
all have at heart and that they may turn out after all to be 
nothing better than the mere ploughing of the sands of the sea- 
shore. But, my Lord, whatever fate awaits our duty, and, 
where the call of duty is clear, it is better even to labour and 
fail than not to labour at all. 1 

Thus closed the first chapter in the history of compulsory 
education in India, and for all the zeal and ability with which 
Gokhale worked at the cause, his main object was not realised. 
The principles underlying the bill — modest as they appear today 
— were really far in advance of the times and the cautious and 
1 Gokhale's Speeches , 1920, p. 660. 


conservative officials of those days would not accept them as 
practical propositions. But Gokhale’s efforts were not entirely 
in vain; they led, as we have seen, to the creation of a Department 
of Education under the Government of India; they considerably 
strengthened the movement in favour of mass education; they 
awakened Government to the duty regarding the education of the 
masses; and the great activity of Government in the iield of 
primary education in the quinquennium 1912-17, was largely the 
indirect result of the efforts of Gokhale. 

Government Resolution of 1913: Although Government had 

turned down Gokhale’s bill, it could not entirely ignore the 
growing popular demand for the spread of mass education. It 
had, therefore, to take some steps in the matter and a great 
occasion for the same was given by the visit of His Majesty King 
George V to India in 1911-12. At the Coronation of His Majesty, 
a recurring grant of Rs. 50,00,000 was assigned to popular educa- 
tion. This was followed by the Government Resolution on 
Educational Policy, dated 21st February 1913, which laid down 
the following principles for the expansion and improvement of 
primary education: 

10. The proposition that illiteracy must be broken and 
that primary education has, in the present circumstances of 
India, a predominant claim upon the public funds, represent 
accepted policy no longer open to discussion. For financial 
and administrative reasons of decisive weight the Government 
of India have refused to recognise the principle of compulsory 
education; but they desire the widest possible extension of 
primary education on a voluntary basis. As regards free ele- 
mentary education, the time has not yet arrived when it is 
practicable to dispense wholly with fees without injustice to the 
many villages which are waiting for the provision of schools. 
The fees derived from those pupils who can pay them are now 
devoted to the maintenance and expansion of primary education, 
and a total remission of fees would involve to a certain extent 
a more prolonged postponement of a provision of schools in 
villages without them. In some provinces elementary education 
is already free and in the majority of provinces liberal provision 


is already made for giving free elementary instruction to those 
boys whose parents cannot afford to pay fees. Local govern- 
ments have been requested to extend the application of the 
principle of free elementary education amongst the poorer and 
more backward sections of the population. Further than! this, 
it is not possible at present to go. . . . 

It is the desire and hope of the Government of India to see 
in the not distant future some 91,000 primary public schools 
added to the 100,000 which already exist for boys and to 
double the 4J millions of pupils who now receive instruction 
in them. 

This statement of policy hardly needs any comment. It is 
evident that the struggle between quality and quantity — which 
had hitherto been confined to collegiate and secondary education 
— had now entered the field of primary education also. It is 
true that the Resolution expressed a hope that, although improve- 
ment would be the main aim of Government, it would not neglect 
expansion and that steps would be taken to double the number of 
schools and pupils. But as later events showed, these hopes did 
not materialise. 

The Patel Act (1918) and other Provincial Acts for Compulsory 
Primary Education: The work of Gokhale was taken up at 

Provincial level by Shri Vithalbhai J. Patel, another great leader 
of the Indian Nationalist Movement. His bill for the introduction 
of compulsory primary education in municipal areas was accepted 
by , the Bombay Legislative Council and became the Bombay 
Primary Education (District Municipalities) Act of 1918, known 
popularly as the Patel fat. 

The example ^of Shri Vithalbhai Patel was imitated very 
extensively. Based on the general plan of his bill, several 
Acts for compulsory primary education were passed before 

The detailed provisions of these Acts will be examined in 
Chapter IX. Here it is enough to state that these Acts were 
passed with great enthusiasm and that they have a historical 
and theoretical value as the first recognition of the principle of 
compulsion by the Provincial Governments concerned. 





Name of the 
Act ! 

whether for 
► Boys or Girls 

applicable to 
Rural of Urban 



Primary Edu- 
cation Act 






t 9 





Boys (extended to 
girls by an amend- 
ment in 1932) 



Bihar and 





City of Bombay 
P. E. Act 


Applicable to City 
of Bombay only 



P. E. Act 





Elementary Edu- 
cation Act 



Quantitative Position of Primary Education (1921-22): Owing 

partly to the absence of compulsion and partly to the official 
predilection for quality rather than quantity, the expansion of 
primary education after 1911-12 was relatively slow and in 1921- 
22, the quantitative position of primary education in India was far 
from happy. The number of children at school was only 2.6 per 
cent of the population (instead of the expected 15 per cent) and the 
statistics of literacy of the census of 1921 were equally disappoint- 
ing. Commenting on them, the Hartog Committee observes: 

Between 1892 and 1922, the percentage of male literates of 
five years and over in British India increased by only 1.4 per cent 
(from 13.0 to 14.4) and that of female literates by 1.3 per cent 
(from 0.7 to 2.0). The percentage of literates of both sexes and 
all ages was only 7.2iin 1921. Progress has been extremely slow. 1 

Qualitative Improvements in Primary Education (1905-22): If 

Government thus failed to bring about a rapid expansion of 
primary education, it would have been some compensation at 
1 Report, p. 45. 


least if the official drive to improve quality had borne material 
success. But even this did not happen. 

(a) Training of Teachers : By far, the best qualitative 
achievement of this period was the improvement in the training 
of primary teachers. Ever since the momentous directions given 
by the Indian Education Commission (1882-83), the problem of 
the training of primary teachers had received considerable attention, 
especially in the period 1901 to 1921. Its main events may be 
summarised as under: 

(/) Government accepted the recommendations of the Com- 
mission that the training of primary teachers was a responsibility 
of the State. Consequently, a large number of training institu- 
tions came to be conducted directly by Government. Moreover, 
Government gave substantial financial assistance to training 
institutions conducted by local bodies or private agencies. 

(ii) There was a steady expansion of training institutions during 
the period under review. In 1921-22, there were, in British India 
including Burma. 926 training institutions for men (with an 
enrolment of 22,774 students) and 146 training institutions for 
women (with an enrolment of 4,157 students). Out of these, 433 
were conducted by Government, 483 by Local Boards and 
Municipalites with the assistance of Government grants, and 156 
were conducted by private bodies, out of which 151 were aided 
and 5 unaided. The training institutions conducted by Missions 
numbered 92. 

(iii) The following statistics of trained and untrained teachers 

working in recognised primary schools in 1921-22 (excluding the 
teachers of English or classical languages) in British India 
including Burma are available: 

Primary Schools 
managed by 






Local Boards 












3 [11,665 





The percentage of trained teachers works out to 38 of the 
whole. It was highest in schools conducted by Government 
— these were mostly practising schools attached to training 
institutions and were consequently conducted as model institutions 
— and lowest in unaided schools. 

(b) Remuneration of Primary Teachers : In this respect, 
considerable improvements were effected in some provinces. 
The Province of Bombay gave a very good lead. Here, most of 
the schools were local authority schools and the problem was, 
therefore, easier. In 1901-2, the average pay of a primary 
teacher was only Rs. 8 or so and there were no incremental scales 
of pay. By 1921-22, definite incremental scales had been intro- 
duced and the average pay of a primary teacher was raised to 
Rs. 33 p.m. Similar, if not the same progress, was made in 
other provinces like the Punjab or C.P. where most of the primary 
schools were conducted by local bodies. Equally good results 
could not, however, be obtained in provinces like Bengal, Bihar 
or Madras where most of the primary schools were private. In 
Bengal, for instance, the average pay continued to be as low as 
Rs* 8 p.m. This was mainly due to the fact that the Provincial 
Government did not spend adequately on primary education or 
pay liberal grants-inaid to primary schools. 

Another drawback in the picture was the rise in the cost of 
living that had occurred since 1902 and particularly after the First 
World War. According to Adam, a primary teacher in Bengal 
got about Rs. 3 to 5 p.m. in 1835. By 1921, this had increased 
to Rs. 8 or so p.m. But in the meanwhile the cost of living had 
increased so many times that it would be perfectly correct to say 
that the teacher of an indigenous school of 1835 was really better 
off than a teacher in the aided school of 1921. When salaries at 
two different periods are compared in terms of money, due 
allowance has to be made for the rise or fall in the purchasing 
power of the rupee. If such allowance is made, it will have to be 
admitted that the improvement in the economic condition of the 
primary teachers (except perhaps in Bombay) was not very 

(c) Curricula : The general trend of curricular revision during 
this period was to make it more complex and elaborate and to 
add subject after subject. Over and above the subjects that had 


already entered the curriculum by 1902, School-gardening and 
Nature-study which were the two favourite subject s of this period 
were introduced in the primary curricula of several provinces. It 
is also interesting to note that Curzon’s idea of differentiating 
between urban and rural schools generally came to be discredited 
by 1921. In Bombay, the separate rural standards that existed 
since 1877-78 were abolished altogether in 1916-17. A similar 
tale was repeated in most Provinces where Cufzon’s idea was 
taken up and as early as 1916-17, it was reported that “the differ- 
ences between curricula for rural and for urban schools are slight 
and tend to disappear. The main difference now consists in the 
objects offered for observation lessons”. 1 

(d) Buildings and Equipment : Some improvement was made 
in these respects; but the rate of expansion of primary education 
was far more rapid so that, comparatively speaking, conditions 
regarding buildings and equipment deteriorated rather than 
improved for the country as a whole. 

(e) Study of Qualitative Aspects : The official emphasis on 
quality, led to discussions out of which arose some very important 
concepts by which the quality and effectiveness of a system of 
primary education was to be judged. For instance, the ideas 
of average duration of a pupil's school life , stagnation , wastage, 
lapse into illiteracy , single-teacher schools , irregular attendance , 
adjustment of holidays to local conditions , etc., began to come into 
the discussions of the problem. Of course, there was a good deal 
of vague talk and not infrequently, even wrong methods of 
calculation were adopted. But it was a great step ahead to 
have discovered certain objective standards to judge the efficiency 
of primary education. Prior to 1921, these ideas had just begun; 
but, as we shall see later, they began to dominate the scene in the 
next period. 

On the whole, what exactly was the qualitative position of 
primary education in 1921-22? The answer cannot be said to 
be very complimentary to the officers who laid so much emphasis 
on qualitative reforms throughout this period. The curriculum 
of primary education was originally devised to convey Western 
knowledge to the people through their mother-tongue; later 
it added two other objectives— to prepare pupils for secondary 

1 Quinquermwl Review (1912-17), Yol. I, p. 116. 


schools and for the lower ranks of public service where a know- 
ledge of English was not essential. These three aims still held the 
field even in 1921-22, all revisions of curricula notwithstanding; 
wastage and stagnation were large; the duration of school life: 
was short in the case of boys and shorter still in the case of girls; 
not infrequently, the improved curriculum remained on paper 
only and the standard of teaching actually obtaining in schools 
was often unsatisfactory either because it was not possible to 
supply trained teachers to all schools, or because the equipment 
was poor or the supervision, inadequate; and no successful 
experiment had been made effective to co-ordinate the teaching 
in rural schools with their environment. It would, therefore, 
be correct to say that in qualitative matters also, the success 
obtained so far was not at all satisfactory. 

Modern Indian Languages; The position of the modern Indian 
languages in university courses began to improve after the Indian 
Universities Act of 1904. As the Quinquennial Review of the 
Progress of Education in India, 1902-7 , says: 

Next may be noted a certain increase in the honour paid to the 
vernacular languages of India. Previously vernacular languages 
found no place in University courses except in Madras where 
they were alternative to a classical language. Now there are 
two Universities, viz , Calcutta and Madras, which have made 
the vernacular language a compulsory subject of study for the 
Intermediate examination; and one University, Calcutta, which 
requires an exercise in the vernacular from all candidates for 
the B. A. degree; while Madras, though not requiring a vernacular 
to be studied for the B.A. permits the vernacular history and 
literature to be chosen from among the various alternatives. In 
the other Universities the vernaculars find no place either as 
optional or compulsory subjects of study. 1 

The Calcutta University Commission, however, was far more 
emphatic. It said: 

We are emphatically of opinion that there is something 
*pp. 27-28* 


unsound in a system of education which leaves a young man, at 
the conclusion of his course, unable to speak or write his ow 
mother tongue fluently and correctly. It is thus beyond contro 
versy that a systematic effort must henceforth be made to pro 
mote the serious study of the vernaculars in secondary schools, 
intermediate colleges and in the University. The elaborate 
scheme recently adopted by the University for the critical, 
historical and comparative study of the Indian vernaculars for 
the M.A. examination is but the coping stone of an edifice of 
which the base has yet to be placed on a sound foundation, and 
it is only when such a structure has been completed that Bengal 
will have a literature worthy of the greatness and civilization 
of its people. 1 

But action on these recommendations had not yet been taken 
when the period under review came to a close. On the whole 
therefore, it may be said that the study of modern Indian lan- 
guages were not sufficiently emphasised in Indian universities even 
in 1921-22, mainly owing to an emphasis on English and classical 
languages, and that this neglect materially affected the development 
of these languages and their adoption as the media of instruction. 

Education Departments: Raference has already been made in 
Chapter V to the organisation of the I.E.S. which was to hold all 
superior posts in the Department and was to be recruited in 
England. Indians were strongly opposed to all public services 
recruited in England. They argued that this policy was equivalent 
to a betrayal of the promises given in the Charter Act of 1833 and 
the Queen’s Proclamation of 1858 to the effect that Indians could 
hope to rise to the highest posts under Government. They also 
resented the implications of the moral and intellectual inferiority 
of the Indian people which this policy implied. Thirdly, they 
argued that Indianisation of services was the first essential step in 
a programme of giving self-government to the people. Fourthly, 
the large salaries of the members of these services were often 
criticised and it was urged that a poor country like India could 
never afford such a pay-roll. Finally, a feeling was gaining 
ground that these central services were opposed to national 
^. 59 - 60 . 


aspirations. The agitation on this subject grew so strong during 
this period that, on 20th August 1917, the Secretary of State for 
India announced that the policy of His Majesty’s Government, 
with which the Government of India was in complete accord, 
was that of increasing association of Indians in every branch of 
Indian administration. The policy of the Public Service Commis- 
sion of 1887 which was so vehemently upheld by Curzon and his 
successors was thus officially buried and a new era of rapid 
Indianisation of the Education Department set in. For instance 
consider the following statistics: 




Total 373 




Total 42 

The situation had, therefore, begun to improve considerably 
when the period under review came to a close. 

•/ \ National Education: One of the most significant developments 

of this period was the birth of the concept of national education. 
This does not, of course, mean that the ideal of national education 
was not put forward at all in the nineteenth century. As shown 
already in Chapter V, the enquiry of the Indian Education 
Commission in 1882-83 led to a nation-wide awakening of educa- 
tional thought and even at this early date, educated Indians came 
forward to give their evidence before the Commission and stress 
the need to correct some of the defects of Indian education’ such 
as absence of religious education, slow progress of mass 
education, etc. \This critical attitude towards the official system 
more and more pronounced as time passed and several 

No. of Posts in I.E.S. {Men) held by 

No. of Posts in I.E.S. {Women) held by 



private mstitutipns came into existence which professed to have a 
national outlook be cause they differed in some respects from the 
Government or missionary schools and colleges. The most 
common of these characteristics were (ri)f Indian management; 
{b) \d spirit of sacrifice on the part of the founders and teachers 
of the institution; (cf^ provision for religious education; 

(d) provision of some courses (over and above the usual courses 
recognised by the universities and the Education Departments) to 
meet the special cultural needs of the Indian people; fe) a keener 
study of the oriental classical languages chiefly intended to 
create self-respect and a love for past traditions and to show that 

Eastern civilisation was at least as good as, if not better than, the 
Western^ (/) v 'greater attention to modern Indian l ang uage- 
and (g/lower fees. B ut it must be noted that all these institutions 
wo rked within the official system in so far as they submitted to 
De partmental in spection and received grants-in-aid. They were, 
in fact, attempts to correct a few blemishes of the official system 
and not the signs of an uncompromising revolt against it. Very 
often, they were sec tari an Jn character and to that extent. Ins 

ft war" L ord C urzon’s administration and policies that gave 
rise, not only t o a n ew militant nationalism, but to national 
e ducatio n as well. Th e Swad eshi Movement was born immediately 
af ter the pa rtition of Bengal and although it was economic in 
ori gin an d application, its spirit affected every walk of life. A 
demand for Swadeshi education soon began to be put forward 
and was immeasurably strengthened by the repeated conflicts 
wiffi the Offic ial policies and the utter failure of Indians to malm 
the o ffici als realise, jthe Indian point of view in education. 
Between 1905 and 1921, therefore, we find a great ferment of 
ed ucational thought within the fold oT~the'lndian stru ggle fnr 
freedom. Of course, this early period shows a certain lack of 

cl arityin ide as. This is but natural, for precisionand definiteness 
usually come after the lapse of time and adequate experimentation. 
But in spite of this defect, the controversies of the period on the 
subject of national education are of great interest from the point 
of view of future developments. 

On one point, almost all national thinkers were ajgreed; 
they all condemnetTthe existing official system of education as 


unhelpf uLand evenan tago nistic, Jto national development. When, 
however, it came to defining precisely what the new national 
education ought to be, ^opinions were naturally not so unanimous. 
But even so, certain fundamental principles of national education 
came to be universally accepted in a short time. These were, of 
course, inspired by the reaction to some salient defects of the 
official system and may be stated as follows: 

(a) v7ndian Control : Nationalist India resented the British 
control of Indian educational policies first and foremost, and 
demanded the substitution of Indian control. National educa- 
tion, therefore, was defined as one which, in the words of Mrs. 

must be controlled by Indians shaped by Indians, carried on 
by Indians. It must hold up Indian ideals of devotion, wisdom 
and morality, and must be permeated by the Indian religious 
spirit rather than fed on the letter of the creeds. The spirit is 
spacious, tolerant, all-embracing, and recognizes that man goes 
to God along many roads and that all the prophets came from 
Him. 1 

(b) ^ Teaching the Love of Motherland : Secondly, it was felt 
that national education must inculcate love and reverence for the 
motherland and for her glorious traditions. As Mrs. Besant 

^ National education must live in an atmosphere of proud and 
glorious patriotism, and this atmosphere must be kept sweet, 
fresh, and bracing by the study of Indian literature, Indian 
History, Indian triumphs in science, in art, in politics, in war, 
in colonization, in manufactures, in trade, in commerce.^ 

(c) ^No Servile Imitation : Thirdly, the official attempt to 
imitate England, to thrust English ideals on India, to create a 
new class of persons who would be Indians in blood and colour but 
English in everything else , was keenly resented. National leaders, 
therefore, pointed out that the old ideal of spreading western 

*Lala Lajpat Rai: op. cit pp. 28-29. 

% Ibid. t p. 29. 



science and literature which was enunciated by the Despatch of 
lit>4 and had held the field ever since, was now obsolete and had 
to be completely revised. “ Nationa l education,** wrote Mrs. Besant, 

must meet the national Jemperament at every point, and 
d evelop the nation al character. India is not to become a lesser 
— nor even a gre ater— Eng land^ but to evolve into a mightier 
I ndia .# British ideals are good for Britain, but it is India’s 
ideals that are good for India. We do not want echoes nor 
m onotones^ we want a choral melody of nations, mirroring the 
varied qualities of Nature and of God. Shall Nature show but 
a single colour^ and trees, and Sowers, and mountains, and sky 
wear but a single hue? Harmonious variety and not monotony 
is the jaarkjoJFp^rfection. Away from all apologies for India, 
with all deprecatory explanations of India’s ways and customs, 
and traditions. India is herself, and needs not to be justified; 
for verily, God has evolved no greater, no more exquisite 
nationality than India’s among all the broken reflections of His 
own perfect beauty. 1 ^ 

This statement should not, however, be interpreted to indicate 
a narrow nationalist outlook impervious to all influences from 
outside. In the heat of the political controversies of this period, 
people did not always maintain their balance. The study of 
Indian history became a tool in the national struggle for freedom 
rather than an impartial search after truth; all sorts of fantastic 
claims were put forward on behalf of ancient India to counteract 
the general denunciation, based on the racial arrogance or bias 
or prejudice of the ruling race; and an ultra-narrow nationalism 
often ^ that India had nothing^ to learn from the West. 
But these excesses were really due to the intensive political 
conflicts of this period and sane thinkers among the glorification 
of the past should operate. In fact, all that the nationalists 
contended, therefore, was this: vfi) there was no justification for 
the wholesale condemnation of India’s past and traditions; 
(ii)v India could rightly feel proud of her past; (iii) via the field 
of international culture, India was not merely a beggar who 
received without being able to return but an equal partner with 
1 La3a Lajpat Rai: op. cit., pp. 29-30. 


other nations; (iv/ while learning several valuable lessons from 
other countries, she had her own unique and valuable contributkm 
to make to World culture and thought; and (^it is the duty of 
a national system of education to develop these attitudes of 
originality and self-respect combined with openness to accept new 
and useful ideas from all sources. 

(dyDomination of English to go: Fourthly, national education 
desired to remove the domination of English, particularly its use 
as a medium of instruction, and to give their proper place to the 
modern Indian languages. Here the most uncompromising 
opposition to English came from Mahatma Gandhi. Even at this 
early period, he put forward the view that Hindustani should be 
the national language of India and that English should not be a 
medium of instruction at any stage of education. Of course, his 
views were not shared by several other leaders. But his extreme 
position was a natural reaction to the official emphasis on English, 
and as time passed, Indian opinion began to be influenced more 
by his views than those of other leaders. 

(e) ^ocational Education to be Emphasised : Fifthly, the failure 

of the modern system of education to bring about the economic 
development of the country was greatly condemned, and its 
growing expensive character was deplored. Indian opinion, there- 
fore, asserted that national education must give due place to 
vocational education and its cost must be within the reach of the 
average Indian. Even at the end of this period, however, very 
little progress was achieved under the official system. Indian 
public opinion, therefore, began to assert that a national 
system of education must emphasise the economic^ development 
of the country and help to bring it about. Opinions were 
naturally divided regarding the means whereby this could be done. 
Some stood for the development of industries through the use of 
machine power. Others condemned the use of machines on 
religious and spiritual grounds. The conflict was obviously much 
too fundamental to have been resolved at this time. But it is 
interesting to note that Mahatma Gandhi had, as early as 1921, 
enunciated certain principles which later on became the Wardha 
Scheme of Basic Education . 

This fixation of the ideals of national education was probably 
the simplest of its aspects. Far more difficult were the problems 



of organisation and execution connected with the new concept. 
Institutions imparting national education from the primary to 
the university stage had to be organised; the teachers required 
for them had to be' obtained and specially trained; new curricula 
had to be developed; parents had to be persuaded to send their 
children to the national schools in preference to the official ones; 
social recognition for the degrees and diplomas granted by the 
national institutions had to be secured; and the huge funds 
required for maintaining the national schools on a sufficiently 
wide scale had to be collected year after year. These were 
obviously tasks that went far beyond the financial and human 
resources which the nationalist organisations of the day could 
command and consequently the whole experiment of national 
education had to contend against very heavy odds in these early 

The attempts to start national jschools fall into two distinct 
periods. The_ first upheaval occurred soon after the partition 
of Bengal. Government issued orders prohibiting students from 
participating in political meetings and demonstrations. These 
compelled several students to boycott schools and colleges and 
several others were rusticated by the authorities for participation 
in political activities. It was felt to be a national duty to provide 
for the education of the young men who had thus suffered and 
hence a Society for the Promotion of National Education in Bengal 
was organised under the chairmanship of Shri Gurudas Banerjee. 
The movement received great impetus because the Calcutta 
Congress (1906) resolved that the time had arrived “for the people 
all over the country earnestly to take up the question of national 
education for both boys and girls, and organise a system of educa- 
tion* literary, scientific and technical, suited to the requirements 
of the country, on National lines and under National control, 
and^ directed towards the realisation of National destiny”. A 
large number of National High Schools was started by this Society 
and at one time, t here wer e as manyjis 11 High. Schools in Bengal 
and 40 in East Bengal. 1 Babu Satish Chandra Mukheijee was 
the r *cmeT~ worker of this Society which was imparting education 
in accordance with the Resolution of the Calcutta Congress. 
O u tside Bengal , however. the movement djd not spread materially 

1 See Quinquennial Review (1907-12), para. 670. 

304 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

— the only ^institution worth mention being the Samarth Vidyalaya 
at TaJegaon, near Poona. RuTvelfy soon, a deterioration 'set in. 
The poliBcar tempo created by the partition died out, particularly 
after the reunion of Bengal; and as early as 1920, L ai a Lajp at 
Rai w as bewailing the disappearance of the National High Schools 
which were once so popular. He wrote: 

The National Council of Education still exists, but only in 
name. Its condition is moribund. The leaders and officers 
themselve have strangulated it. Mr. T. Palit and Sir Rash 
Behari Ghosh, two of its strongest pillars, gave it a death-blow 
when they handed over their magnificent endowment to the 
Calcutta University, instead of to the National Council of 
Education, founded and led by them. 1 The few scholars who, 
with characteristic self-sacrifice, gave up careers to give 
instruction to the students of the National College, are all dis- 
persed. They are seeking appointments in Government-aided 
institutions. The Nationalist schools, started by the Council, 
have, most of them, been disintegrated by the force of 
circumstances, and at the present moment the movement is 
nothing but a dilapidated and discarded landmark in the educa- 
tional progress of the country. 2 

The second upheaval occurred in 1920-22. In spite of strong 
opposition from older statesmen like Pandit Madan Mohan 
Malaviya, Mahatma Gandhi started preaching a boycott of 
Government schools and colleges. It was mainly because of his 
insistence that the Non-cooperation Resolution passed by the 
Nagpur Congress in 1920 earnestly advised the “gradual withdrawal 
of children from schools and colleges owned, aided or controlled 
by Government, and, in place of such schools and colleges, the 
establishment of national schools and colleges in the various 
Provinces’’. 3 This resolution was supported by Gandhiji on three 
grounds. The first and foremost was the supreme political 

1 This has reference to endowments of Rs. 15 lakhs and Rs. 124 lakhs 
respectively given to the Calcutta University by Sir Tarak Nath Palit and Sir 
Rash Behari Ghosh. 

2 Lala Lajpat Rai: op. cit., pp. 25-26. 

3 Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya: History of the Indian National Congress , 
Vol. I, p. 203. 


necessity of the youth fighting for the freedom of their country. 
The main idea behind his Non-cooperation Movement of 1920-21 
was that Swar aj could b e obtained within one yea r if the pu blic 
fo llowed Ins advice in general and, in particular, completely 
bo ycotted the i^ Btutions^ conducted by Government and set up 
parallel institutions oHts own. He desired to create a complete 
deanToS ancT paralyse Government by calling upon the people to 
make a supreme, co-ordinated, and comprehensive effort to non- 
cooperate with the alien rulers and naturally expected that the 
youth of the country, which included the students reading in 
schools and, colleges, should take a prominent part in the struggle 
and sacrifice a year of their life for the cause of national freedom. 
Secondly, he felt it to be immoral and spiritually degrading that 
the young men and women of the country should continue to 
study in the institutions of a Government which was guilty of the 
Punjab and Khilafat wrongs. And lastly, he was also convinced 
that, as an emergency measure, the public could really afford to 
maintain a parallel set of educational institutions — particularly 
secondary schools and colleges -without any financial assistance 
from Government. 

This appeal of Gandhiji to the youth of the country, which was 
strongly supported by several other national leaders and in 
particular, by the Ali Brothers, 1 did not go in vain. In fact, the 
response of the students to the call for the boycott of schools and 
colleges was far more successful than any other form of boycott 
or non-cooperation suggested by the Congress. 2 The first to 
come in the field were the students of the Aligarh University. 
When Mahatma Gandhi and the Ali Brothers visited Aligarh and 
addressed the students, a tremendous response came forth and the 
students decided in favour of Non-cooperation and refusal of all 
Government assistance. Amidst scenes of great enthusiasm, they 
passed a resolution demanding that the University should be 
nationalised by disowning all connection with Government and 
revising its curricula on national lines. But unfortunately, the 
unity among the students did not last long. Several of them 
were recalled home by their parents and some others were 

x Maulana Shaukat Ali and Mahomed Ali. 

*The only probable exception to this statement may be the No-vote 


persuaded to change their views. A small band of convinced 
fighters, led by the redoubtable Maulana Mohamed Ali, however, 
continued to stay on the University premises and to claim that 
the institution should be fully nationalised according to their 
demand. This fight continued for some weeks; but at last the 
Trustees of the University sought police help and turned out all 
those \yjjo were fighting for nationalisation. They left quietly in 
spite 0 f vcr y great provocation, because non-violent passive 
resistance was the principal plank of the campaign, and established 
a new University, the Jamia Millia Islamia (National Muslim 
University) at Aligarh almost immediately. , 

This splendid lead given by Aligarh was soon picked up in 
other p ar t s c f India. As Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya observes: 

National Universities, National Colleges, and National 
Schools of all grades were started in different parts of the 
country. The student movement in the U.P., the Punjab, and 
the Bombay Presidency was in full swing. Bengal was not 
behindhand, and Calcutta witnessed one of those thrilling 
scenes which were not few or far between in the course of that 
me tdorable year and a half. About the middle of January, on 
an appeal by Deshbandhu C. R. Das, thousands of students 
left their colleges and examinations. Gandhi visited Calcutta 
and opened the National College on the 4th of February. He 
also visited Patna for a second time and formally opened the 
National College and inaugurated the Bihar Vidyapith. Thus 
in the course of less than four months, the National Muslim 
University of Aligarh, the Gujarat Vidyapith, the Bihar 
Vidyapith, the Kashi Vidyapith, the Bengal National University, 
the xilak Maharashtra Vidyapith, and a large number of 
National Schools of all grades, with thousands of students on 
the rolls, were started in all parts of the country as a result of 
the great impetus given to National Education. 1 

Th^ difficulties under which the new national institutions 
laboured can only be imagined. Almost overnight, they had to 
start functioning as full-fledged educational institutions of a type 
whicl\ had hardly been clearly envisaged in the past. Lack of 
tory of the Indian National Congress, Vol I, p. 211. 

a Period of transition 

suitable buildings and equipment and inadequate finances and 
trained personnel stared them in the face. Moreover, the students 
and teachers of these institutions were expected to carry on 
political propaganda among the people, particularly among those 
living in rural areas, during their vacations and sometimes even 
during term-time. The opposition from Government was always 
there and quite frequently, the prominent workers among the 
students or teachers were arrested on some charge or other and 
imprisoned. But in spite of all these handicaps and difficulties, 
the national institutions did yeoman service by formulating the 
principles of national education, by preparing alternative courses 
suited to national needs, and by adopting the modern Indian 
languages as media of instruction. It would be no exaggeration 
to say that it was in the laboratory of these national institutions 
that the fundamental principles of a national reconstruction of 
education were first evolved. 

Unfortunately, a set-back to the whole movement came in too 
early. The tempo of the Non-cooperation Movement cooled 
down after some time, and as some cases of violence began to 
occur, Gandhiji withdrew the Movement altogether. The 
fundamental concept of Swaraj within one year did not materialise 
and as the prospect of Independence receded into the background, 
the enthusiasm of the students naturally began to wane. The 
national leaders also realised that it would be wrong to expect 
the students to sacrifice the whole of their career. The earlier 
policy of non-cooperation was accordingly changed and, except- 
ing a few top-ranking institutions, others were allowed to seek 
Government recognition again and the students were also per- 
mitted, unless they desired to devote their whole life to the 
national cause, to seek admission to recognised schools and 
complete their training. By 1922, the tide had almost ebbed. 

This second upheaval in national education, as the above 
account will show, differed materially from the first in several 
respects. It was more intensive, and more widespread; the 
numbers of students and teachers involved in it were far larger; 
it contributed more largely to con stnxc ti v^educationa 1 thought; 
and the mo v^ehrcont^ useful pioneer work 

even after non^oopw^^n^^mc to an end, while the first up- 
heaval hardly lefi anyluch mileposts behind. It is also worthy 



of note that the upheaval created a new national leadership and 
“not a few of the Provincial and District leaders of today are 
from among the . . . students who had non-cooperated in 1920”. 1 
It also created a wave of patriotic feeling, not only among the 
students of national institutions, but among the whole of the 
student community at large. Even the conservative bureaucrats 
of the I.E.S. were affected considerably and felt that India was 
not really satisfied with the existing system and that a reconstruc- 
tion thereof was urgently needed. As the Quinquennial Review of 

the Progress of Education in India, 1917-22, observed: 


14. In short ... the crisis has left behjtad the conviction 
that our educational aims need restatement^If the function of 
education is the adaptation of the future citizen to his 
environment, then the content of education must change in 
harmony with changes in that environment. The political and 
economic conditions of India have been undergoing change and 
the national school movement can at least claim that it lent 

strength to the advocates of educational reform. // 


General Review of the Period from 1855 to 1921: This survey of 
the principal educational developments in the period from 1905 
to 1921 can now be closed with a brief and general review of the 
educational developments in India as a whole between 1855 and 
1921. These sixty-six years are unique in the history ofn&odern 
education in India. Prior to 1855, the Education Departments 
did not exist; and in 1921 the control of education was transferred 
to Indian Ministers responsible to a legislature with a large elected 
majority. During the interim period of about seven decades, the 
ultimate authority in education was a bureaucracy — whether it 
was the bureaucracy of the officers of the Education Departments 
or ultimately of the I.C.S. It would, therefore, be desirable to 
evaluate the principal achievements of this Bureaucratic Raj in 
education and to see where exactly the Indian Education 
Ministers had to begin their work. 

(a) Expansion— its extent and limitations: It will be seen 

from the narrative of events contained in this and the three 
preceding chapters that there was a great expansion of the modern 
x Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya: op, cit., p. 211. 


system of education between 1854 and 1921. It would, therefore, 
IxTinteresting to compare the statistics of education in 1855 with 
those of 1921-22: 



1. Universities 



2. Arts Colleges 

3. Professional Colleges (the figures 
of 1855 under this head include 
Professional Schools other than 



Normal Schools) 

, 13 


4. Secondary Schools 



5. Primary Schools 



6. Special Schools 



7. Total number of recognised 


8. Total number of scholars in 



recognised institutions 





9. Total expenditure on Education 



10. Govt, expenditure on Education 

Not known; but 
most of the above 
amount was ex- 
pended by Govern- 


N.JB . — The figures for 1855 are taken from the Report of the Indian Educa- 
tion Commission, General Table No. la. Those for 1921-22 are for British 
India only, exclusive of Burma. 

This expansion of the State system of education is certainly 
a creditable performance. But one has to remember that there 
was a considerable set-off to this achievement inasmuch as the 
indigenous system of education mostly disappeared during the 
period under review. We saw, in Chapter I, that there is good 
evidence to believe that, at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, almost every village had a school of some sort. This 
vast system of indigenous education had almost ceased to exist 
and by 1921-22, the unrecognised institution — which term includes 


all the known educational institutions outside the State system — 
numbered only 16,322 with only 422,165 pupils. It was mainly 
because of this set-off that the percentage of literacy given by 
Adam does not differ materially from that of 1921-22. For 
instance, take the following statistics: 

Adarrts Figures 
(Taken from his 
intensive studies 
of six Thanas in 
the third report. 
Vide Chapter I) 

Position of 
British India in 
(Burma is 

( a) Centres of Instruction, i . e . , 
Schools — public and domestic — 
as given by Adam and schools — 
recognised and unrecognised — 
as given in Departmenal Reports 



(b) Pupils under instruction 

(1 for 225 


(1 for 1,280 


(c) Percentage of pupils under ins- 
truction to the total population 
(This ought to be about 15 per 



(d) Number of Adult literates, 1 
above the age of 15. (Adam’s 
figures are for literates above 
the age of 14.) 



( e) Percentage of Adult literates to 
the total population 



1 Figures given here are for whole of British India excluding Ajmere-Mer- 
wara, Andamans and Nicobars, British Baluchistan, Coorg and Delhi for 
which figures are not available. 

If allowance is made for the imperfections in Adam's figures, 
for the fact that education was decaying in the days of Adam, 
and for the fact that the area surveyed by Adam (which had been 
under a long period of anarchy) was in all probability more back- 
ward in education than other parts of India which had been under 
a more or less settled government, it will be evident that the 
educational position of India in 1921-22 was not appreciably 
different from that in 1821-22, especially if we look at the problem 
from the point of view of the work that yet remained to be done. 

A Eeriod of TRANSITION $11 

The achievements of the modern system of education, there- 
fore, were hardly of any importance from the quantitative point 
of view. At the "beginning of the nineteenth century, when the 
State had not accepted any responsibility for the education of die 
people, the cultivation of letters was restricted to a small minority 
of the population, and the vast majority — which included almost 
all the females — were unable to read and write. Even in 1921-22, 
there was no material improvemen t i n the situation. Education 
was stiff confined to^ small minority. The percentage of literacy 
in In3iannT9T^^ andjhe vast majority of the people 

still remained outs ide the educational system. It is, of course, 
tniethat tEer e were a few important gains. For instance, there 
had been a gradual change in the public attitude to female educa- 
tion and women were now entering educational institutions in 
ever-increasing numbers. Similarly, there was also an awakening 
among the less advanced sections of society and pupils belonging 
to ^effTwelilnow enrolled in educational institutions in a much 
larger^pr^ortion than a hundred years previously. But without 
belittling the importance of these achievements, it may be stated 
that the spread of education in 1921-22 was not materially wider 
than ffiat in 1835-38 and many even considered it disappointing 
in ^nevT^the great expansion achieved by the State system of 
schools during the period under review. 

(6) Causes of Inadequate Quantitative Expansion : The 
educational position in 1921-22, therefore, was, in a way, paradoxi- 
cal. On the one hand, there had been a considerable expansion 
of the State system of education. The ^increase in expenditure 
from Government funds— from about Rs. 1 lakh in 1821 to 
Rs. 1101 Taffis particular notice. On the other 

hafiffTtEeTIseln^ ^the^^centage of population enrolled in schools 
was not proportionate to the increase in expenditure; nor was 
the rise in the percentage of literacy proportionate to the rise in 
the pupils under instruction. As may be easily anticipated, this 
was the paradox which educationists were called upon to explain. 

One school of thinkers tried to explain the situation by pointing 
out the intrinsic difficulties of the problem and the waste and w- 
effectiveness^Tnvolvbd in the educational system. According to 
thiTsSooi, the slow advance of mass education was due to: 


(i) Large increase in population; 

(«) High birth-rate which added millions to the number of 
those to be educated; 

(iii) High death-rate which created wide gaps in the ranks of 
literates turned out by the schools; 

(iv) Wastage due to stagnation, deaths, premature with- 
drawals from schools, etc., so that only a very small 
minority of the children enrolled in schools attained 

(v) Lapse into illiteracy on the part of those who had once 
been made literate, owing to lack of suitable environment 
for the maintenance of literacy; 

(vi) Intrinsic difficulties of the problem such as scattered 
population centres, poverty, apathy of the people, multi- 
plicity of castes, creeds, languages, etc. 

The other school of thinkers did not minimise either the extent 
of the intrinsic difficulties or the value of the work already 
achieved; but it was of opinion that thejlow progress of mass 
educatiQU_was due, not so much to the difficulties and defects / 
enumerated above, as to the following causes: 

(, i ) Almost complete disappearance of indigenous systems of 

(») Lack of adequate funds; 

'(iii) Emphasis on the development of collegiate and secondary 
education which necessarily involved, on financial grounds, 
a neglect of primary education; 

(iv) Emphasis on departmental institutions (which were neces- 
sarily costlier) rather than on private institutions which 
would have enabled Government to achieve expansion at 
a lesser cost; 

(v) ! Emphasis on quality rather than on quantity particularly 

in the sphere of primary education; 

(vi) Neglect of modern Indian languages; 

(vii) Adoption of English as the medium of instruction; 

(viii) Absence of compulsory primary education. 

Obviously, the differences between these two schools of thought 

A Rbriod Of Transition 3x3 

are of fundamental importance to the problem and hence it was 
quite natural that the suggestions for reform put forward by one 
school should be quite’ different from those of the other. As will 
be seen later in Chapter XI, the history of primary education in 
the next period centred mainly round the conflict between these 
two points of view. 

(c) Qualitative Achievements of the State System of Education: 
The main achievements of the new system of education, therefore, 
wer e qualitative rather than qua ntitative. It substituted a newer 
and" a comparatively more efficient system of education for the 
indigenous institutions, both elementary and higher. The 
difference is not marked at the elementary stage, even though in 
some respects the modern primary schools do show positive 
improvements. For instance, their curriculum is broader and 
more liberal; the methods of teaching are better and more 
modernised; the use of printed books is a definite asset; the 
teachers are, on the whole, abler than those of the indigenous 
schools. On the other hand, it is complained that the modem 
primary school has lost the elasticity of the indigeuous system, 
and that it is not as finely adjusted to the needs and requirements 
of the rural population as the indigenous system was. There 
can be no doubt, however, that there is a world of difference 
between the modern secondary schools, colleges, and universities 
on the one hand and the tols, the pathshalas, and the madrassahs 
on the other. The indigenous system of higher education was 
a relic of the middle ages. It was dominated by religion, confined 
to a small minority of the total population, and absolutely 
divorced from the modern developments in science. The rejec- 
tion of this system followed by the establishment of another which 
aimed at a spread of Western knowledge and science was, there- 
fore, a great achievement. It is true that in the early years of 
the new system, the pendulum was swung too far to the other 
side. There was a good deal of undeserved contempt and con- 
demnation heaped upon Oriental learning; there was also an 
equally undeserved glorification of western culture and civilisa- 
tion. But these excesses were soon corrected when the national 
sentiment began to develop and when Indian universities began 
to cultivate rational and scientific studies of the Oriental classical 

languages. On the whole, the new system of education gave a 



A Teriod of transition 

great stimulus to the national mind of India, cut loose several of 
thebonds which hampered the progress of society, and led to a 

great renaissance in all walks of national life. 

It has to be remembered, however, that even these great 
\ qualitative achievements had their own limitations. For instance, 
| the education given was too literary; it prepared the student for 
i hardly anything beyond employment in clerical or teaching profes- 
sions; vocational education was not developed; and the whole 
course was dominated by a rigid system of examinations and 
hampered by the use of English as a medium of instruction. 

Transfer of Education to Indian Control: It was at this juncture 
that the reforms outlined in the Government of India Act, 1919, 
were introduced and the Department of Education (subject to 
certain reservations) was transferred to the control of Indian 

The controversy that arose at this time over the transfer of the 
Education Department to Indians is of some interest. The joint 
report of Mr. Montagu, the then Secretary of State, and Lord 
Chelmsford, the then Governor-General, formed the basis on 
which the reforms of 1919 were worked out. This report stated 
that the “guiding principle should be to include in the transfer- 
red list those departments which afford most opportunity for local 
knowledge and social service, those in which Indians have shown 
themselves to be keenly interested, those in which mistakes which 
may occur though serious would not be irremediable, and those 
which stand most in need of development”. 1 In pursuance of this 
principle, it was but natural to expect that education would be 
classed as a transferred subject. But it is interesting to note that 
there was consi derable opposition to the tran sfer of the entire 
control of education to Indians and that several difficulties were 
putTorwardL The ^nglo-Indi ans and Europeans feared unneces- 
sarily that their interests would not tie safemlEhe hands of Indian 
ministers and claimed that the subject of Anglo-Indian and European 
Education should be treated as Central or reserved. The opinions 
of the Provincial Governments were greatly divided. The Bengal 
Government desired to reserve collegiate and European education; 
the United Provinces Government recommended the transfer of 
1 Montogu- Chelmsford Report, para. 238. 


the whole subject of education, even though the official committee 
which advised that Government were divided in their opinion; the 
Punjab Government reserved its opinion regarding the transfer of 
higher education; the Government of Bihar and Orissa strongly 
opposed the transfer of secondary, technical and collegiate educa- 
tion; the Chief Commissioner of Assam opposed the transfer of 
collegiate education; the Madras Government opposed the transfer 
of the Education Department as a whole, and the Government of 
India broadly agreed with the Bengal view. But luckily for this 
country, however, better counsels prevailed, and the whole of the 
Education Department was transferred to Indian mininisters 
subject to the following reservations: 

1. The Banaras Hindu University and such other new 
universities as may be declared to be all-India by the Governor- 
General-in-Council were excluded on the ground that these 
institutions were of an all-India character and had better be 
dealt with by the Government of India itself; 

2. Colleges for Indian chiefs and educational institutions 
maintained by the Governor-General-in-Council for the benefit 
of members of His Majesty’s Forces or other public servants, 
or their children were also excluded on the ground that these 

1 institutions ought to be under the direct control of the Govern- 
ment of India; and 

3. The education of Anglo-Indians and Europeans was 
treated as a provincial but a reserved subject. 

The authority to legislate on the following subjects was 
reserved for the central legislature, mainly with a view to 
enabling the Government of India to take suitable action on the 
report of the Calcutta University Commission: 

(a) Questions regarding the establishment, constitution and 
functions of new universities; 

( b ) Questions affecting the jurisdiction of any university out- 
side its province; and 

(c) Questions regarding the Calcutta University and the 
reorganisation of secondary education in Bengal (for a 
period of five years only after the introduction of the 


As will be easily seen, these orders created a queer position by 
treating education as “partly all-India, partly reserved, partly 
transferred with limitations, and partly transferred without limita- 
tions.” 1 They show clearly the difficulty with which a workable 
compromise was finally arrived at between the various conflicting 
opinions which have been mentioned above. 

Wtth this transfer of education to Indian control, the fifth 
period in the history of modern education in India begins and its 
mam events will be discussed in detail in the following chapter. 

x Ibid. 9 para. 93. 

Charter Nine 

Education Under Diarchy 

The Constitution introduced by the Government of India Act, 
1919, is known as Diarchy or the rule of the two. Under this 
system, the sphere of the activities of a Provincial Government 
was divided into two parts — the reserved departments and the 
transferred departments. The Governor, who was the head of the 
Provincial Government was to administer the reserved depart- 
ments with the help of some executive councillors and was to be 
responsible to the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs (through 
the Government of India) for the proper management of those 
departments; on the other hand, he was expected to administer 
the transferred departments with the help of ministers who were 
responsible, not to the Secretary of State, but to a Provincial 
Legislature which consisted of a large elected majority. It was 
on account of this division of the provincial executive into two 
parts that the system got its name of Diarchy, and it was under 
this unusual form of a political constitution that Indians first ob- 
tained the control of the Education Department. It is beyond the 
scope of this book to enter into an examination of the merits and 
demerits of this constitutional machinery. But the following 
narrative of some of its features will throw light on the difficulties 
under which the Indian ministers had to work. 

Financial Arrangements: The most important handicap of Indian 
ministers was financial and hence the financial arrangements that 
were introduced by the Government of India Act of 1919 deserve 
a careful study. Prior to this date, all the revenues of India were 
divided into three parts — Central, Provincial and Divided. 
Certain sources of revenue such as Customs, Railways, Posts and 
Telegraphs, were regarded as Central, that is to say, belonging 
exclusively to the Government of India; certain other sources of 
revenue such as Forests were treated as exclusively Provincial; 


and some sources of revenue were treated as divided , and their 
total yield was shared in a fixed ratio by the Government of India 
and the Provincial Government concerned. The Reforms of 1919 
proposed to make a clearcut division of revenues between the 
Central and Provincial Governments by the abolition of divided 
■ sources — the most important of which were Land Revenue, Income- 
tax, Excise, Stamps and Irrigation. For reasons which it is be- 
yond the scope of this book to consider, it was decided to treat 
all these sources, except income-tax as Provincial revenue. This 
led to a serious loss to the Central Government and hence it was 
proposed that the Provincial Governments should make some 
yearly contributions to the Central Government until the latter 
had time to adjust its own budget. The contributions to be thus 
paid by the Provincial Governments were made a first charge on 
their revenues and the balance was to be utilised for the Provincial 
departments — both reserved and transferred. 

Keen controversies arose as to how this allocation within the 
Province was to be made. One view was that the Executive 
Councillors who were in charge of the reserved departments and 
the Ministers who were in charge of the transferred departments 
should sit together under the chairmanship of the Governor and 
decide upon the allocation of revenues among all the departments 
of the Province according to the needs of each. This system 
came to be known as the joint-purse system. The opponents of 
this view advocated a different plan according to which a clearcut 
division of the Provincial revenue was to be made between the 
two halves of Government and each half was to propose its own 
methods of additional taxation if the existing resources proved to 
be insufficient. This scheme came to be known as the separate- 
purse system. Ultimately, the former view prevailed and the 
system of joint-purse was adopted. As latter events showed, this 
system of financial arrangements did not help the cause of the 
transferred in general and of education in particular. The finan- 
ces of the Provincial Governments were largely crippled by the 
contributions payable to the Government of India; in industrial 
provinces like Bombay where the revenue from income-tax was a 
lucrative, elastic, and ever-improving source of income, the centra- 
lisation of the income-tax hit the Provincial finances very hard; 
the protfoJio of finance was a reserved subject and was held by 


an executive councillor. For these and other reasons, the Indian 
ministers were not able to obtain the funds essential for a large- 
scale expansion and reorganisation of education. 

Control over Services: Another peculiar feature of the diarchical 
form of administration was the very limited control which the 
Indian ministers could exercise over the educational services of 
the country. In 1921, most of the key posts in the Education 
Department were held by members of the Indian Educational 
Service and they continued to be so held for most of the period 
under review. The question of the future rights and privileges of 
the members of this service was one of the important issues raised 
at the time of the transfer of education to Indian control and 
formed the subject of a heated controversy. Ultimately, the de- 
cisions taken were based on the recommendations of the Royal 
Commission on Superior Civil Services in India (1923-24), popularly 
known as the Lee Commission, and may be summed up as follows: 

(a) The Lee Commission accepted the principle that the autho- 
rity which is responsible for the administration of a particular 
subject should have the power of organising the services employed 
in the administration of that subject in such manner as it thinks 
best, and that the recruitment and ultimate control of that service 
should be vested in the hands of that authority. It, therefore, 
recommended that “for the purposes of local Governments, no 
further recruitment should be made to the All-India Services 
which operate in transferred fields. The personnel required for 
these branches of administration should in future be recruited by 
local Governments.*’ 1 Government accepted this recommenda- 
tion and the recruitment to the I.E.S. was discontinued in 1924. 

(&) The existing rights and privileges of the I.E.S. were 
guaranteed. These included the following: (i) No post reserved 
in the past for the I.E.S. was to be filled by a Provincial officer 
so long as any number of the I.E.S. was eligible to hold it; ( ii ) 
No I.E.S* officer could be dismissed from his service by any 
authority other than the Secretary of State in Council; (iii) An 
I.E.S. officer had a right of appeal to that body, if he was adversely 
dealt with in important disciplinary matters; (iv) No order afifect- 

1 Quinquennial Review of the Progress of Education in India , 1922-27, 
Vol. I, p. 39. 

320 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

ing his emoluments adversely, and no order of censure on him 
could be passed without the personal concurrence of the Governor; 
(v) His salary and pension, and sums payable to his dependents, 
were not subject to the vote of any Indian legislature; and (vi) 
provision was also made to permit those members of the All-India 
Services who so desired, to retire before they had completed the 
service ordinarily required for retiring on pension, and in such 
cases, they received a favourable consideration in the matter of 
their pension. 

( c ) Certain additional concessions were also granted to the 
European members of the I.E.S. to compensate them partly for 
the rise in the cost of living and partly for the changed conditions 
under which they had to work. 

The positions of the I.E.S. under the Reforms was thus anoma- 
lous and led to a good deal of ill-feeling on both sides. It is 
rather difficult to describe how this system actually came to work 
in practice as the available evidence is conflicting. On the one 
hand, it has been alleged that the Indian Education Service 
officers did not sympathise with the ideas of reconstruction that 
were being put forward by non-official Indian opinion; that it was 
difficult to carry out a policy with which the chief executive 
officers were not in sympathy; and that the privileges granted 
to the I.E.S. even amounted to a curtailment of the responsibility 
of the Indian ministers to their legislatures. On the other hand, 
the officials complained of frequent variations in policy and of 
interference with the day-to-day executive work of the administra- 
tion. It is not possible to make any generalised statements on 
the subject, as the position must have varied from province to 
province and must have greatly depended upon the personal 
equation between the parties concerned. But on the whole, it may 
be inferred that the experiment did not succeed well and the 
necessity of harmony between the ministers and the executive 
came to be greatly felt. The problem, however, soon lost its 
interest because the European element in the I.E.S. was practi- 
cally liquidated by 1936-37. 

Absence of Central Interest and Assistance: The third feature of 
the diarchical form which created difficulties in the way of 
educational expansion and improvement was the sudden cessation 


of financial assistance from the Central Government. Reference 
has already been made to the large grants for education that the 
Central Government sanctioned between 1902 and 1918 and 
which led to so great an expansion or improvement in education. 
Such grants ought to have continued in this period also. But 
unfortunately, the financial arrangements under diarchy made ' 
this impossible. As shown earlier, not only did the Central 
Government stop its grants to the Provinces, but the process 
was reversed and the Provinces were now required to make con- 
tributions to the Central Government. It is true, of course, that 
the contributions were discontinued in 1927-28. But that does 
not vitiate the statement that the advantage of central financial 
assistance was not available to education between 1921 and 1937. 

Similarly, the keen interest that the Central Government showed 
in educational matters in the earlier period came suddenly to an 
end with the introduction of diarchy. Although education was 
regarded as a Provincial subject since 1870, the Government of 
India had continued to hold itself responsible for all educational 
policies and, as shown before, taken a very keen interest in educa- 
tion all along, especially between 1902 and 1921. But all this 
was changed in 1921. According to the Government of India 
Act, 1919, Education was not only a Provincial, but a transferred 
subject and constitutionally, the Centre was not to exercise any 
control over transferred departments. This direction was so 
interpreted in practice that the Government of India ceased even 
to take an interest in educational matters and refused to perform 
even those of Its functions (such as that of co-ordination of 
Provincial activities) where an element of control is not involved. 
It is true that the annual and quinquennial reviews of education 
still continued to be published; but hardly anything else was 
done. A Central Advisory Board of Education was organised in 
1920 with a view to assisting Provincial Governments with expert 
advice; but, in spite of its useful work, it was abolished in 1923 
as a measure of retrenchment. For the same reasons, the Depart- 
ment of Education in the Government of India ceased to have an 
independent existence and was amalgamated with other depart- 
ments. It is this absence of Central grants and interest in edu- 
cation that the Hartog Committee 1 described as the unfortunate 
1 For details, see p. 325. 



divorce of the Government of India from education. Its obser- 
vations on this point, with which most educationists would agree, 
are given below: ^ 

We are of opinion that the divorce of the Government of India 
from education has been unfortunate; and, holding as we do, 
that education is essentially a national service, we are of opinion 
that steps should be taken to consider anew the relation of the 
Gentral Government with this subject. We have suggested that 
the Government of India should serve as a centre of educational 
information for the whole of India and as a means of co-ordinat- 
ing the educational experience of the different provinces. But 
we regard the duties of the Central Government as going beyond 
that. We cannot accept the view that it should be entirely 
relieved of all responsibility for the attainment of universal 
primary education. It may be that some of the provinces, in 
spite of all efforts, will be unable to provide the funds necessary 
for that purpose, and the Government of India should, there- 
fore, be constitutionally enabled to make good such financial 
deficiencies, in the interests of India as a whole. 1 

As a result of this recommendation, the Central Advisory Board 
of Education was revived in 1935. The position thus improved 
somewhat towards the close of the period; but it has to be 
admitted that the Government of India took little interest in 
educational matters in so far as the major part of this period is 
concerned, and that it gave no financial assistance whatsoever to 
the Provinces on account of their educational programmes. 

Other Difficulties: The above discussion will show the main 
difficulties that were inherent in the constitutional arrangements 
under which Indians first obtained the control of the Education 
Departments. To these must be added certain difficulties created 
by outside circumstances. For instance, the Indian National 
Congress which had then grown to be the largest political party 
in India considered the Reforms of 1919 to be unsatisfactory, 
boycotted the Legislative Councils, and organised the Non- 
cooperation Movement. Similarly, a Civil Disobedience Movement 
1 Report, p. 346. 


was organised in 1930-32. These two political movements domi- 
nated the national life of the country throughout the period under 
review; and the attention of the public was, therefore, concen- 
trated more on political than on educational problems. 

To these political difficulties must be added the financial 
difficulties created by the world economic depression that began 
about 1930. One would have thought that the financial diffiulties 
created by a world economic depression should have had little or 
no effect on education . Its importance as a nation-building 
department and the fact that it had been strayed of its due share 
of public revenues for a long time in the past ought to have 
shielded it from the axe of retrenchment. Unfortunately, the 
events showed that the axe fell heavily on nation-building depart- 
ments and more particularly so on education. 

Main Achievements of the Period: With this background in view, 
let us now turn to the main achievements of this period. 

The following statistics compare the educational results of 
1936-37 with those of 1921-22: 

Type of Institution 1 

No. of Institutions 

No. of Scholars 





. Universities 




Figures not 


S. Arts Colleges 






Professional Colleges 





S. Secondary Schools 


13,056 | 



>• Primary Schools 





►. Special Schools 





Total for Recognised 





r - Unrecognised 





Grand Total 






— The figures are for British India only, exclusive of Burma. 



The results, it will be seen, are surprisingly good, and even a 
little unexpected in view of the several difficulties mentioned 
above. To what causes are these results to be ascribed? How 
are we to explain the paradoxical phenomenon that there was an 
all-round and unprecedented increase in the number of schools 
and of scholars under instruction in spite of the fact that the 
expansion of Government efforts was substantially curtailed on 
account of financial stringency? 

The explanation of this paradox is to be found in the great 
political and social awakening that took place in India during 
this period. The following two quotations from two documents 
of this period will give an insight into the causes that led to this 
remarkable expansion of education: 

A burst of enthusiasm swept children into school with un- 
paralleled rapidity; an almost childlike faith in the value of 
education was implanted in the minds of people; parents were 
prepared to make almost any sacrifice for the education of their 
children; the seed of tolerance towards the less fortunate in life 
was begotten; ambitious and comprehensive programmes of 
development were formulated, which were calculated to fulfil 
the dreams of a literate India; the Muslim community, long 
backward in education, pressed forward with eagerness to 
obliterate past deficiencies; enlightened women began to storm 
the citadel of old-time prejudice against the education of Indian 
girls; Government, with the full concurrence of Legislative 
Councils, poured out large sums of money on education, which 
would have been regarded as beyond the realm-of practical 
politics ten years previously . 1 

Education has come to be regarded generally as a matter of 
primary national importance, an indispensable agency in the 
difficult task of ‘nation building’. The attention given to it by 
legislative councils is both a symptom and evidence of this 
recognition. The transfer of the Department of Education to 
popular control, as represented by a Minister, has both increased 
the public interest in it and made it more sensitive to the currents 
of public needs and public opinion. Nor is it only the authori- 
ties and the well-to-do classes that have welcome and encouraged 
^■Quinquennial Review of the Progress of Education in India, 1927-32, Vol,I, p. 3 . 


the spread of education. Communities which had for long 
been educationally backward, like the Muhammadan community, 
have awakened • to the need and possibilities of education for 
their children. The movement has spread to the depressed 
Classes and even to the tribal aborigines, and has stirred a 
much larger proportion of the people than before to demand 
education as a right . 1 

These passages, on the whole, show the causes that led to the 
remarkable expansion during the period under review. 

The Hartog Committee Report and its Reactions: The rapid ex- 
pansion of education that took place during this period of fifteen 
years threw into sharp relief some of its existing defects and also 
created new problems of its own. Consequently, the dissatis- 
faction against the educational system, to which we have referred 
while dealing with the early decades of this century, increased 
considerably both in official and non-official circles. For instance, 
official opinion held that the sudden rise in quantity had led to a 
great dilution of quality and that the educational system of India 
was largely ineffective and wasteful. This view was pointedly 
expressed in the report Of the “Auxiliary Committee of the Indian 
Statutory Commission” (popularly known as the Hartog Com- 
mittee , 2 after its Chairman, Sir Philip Hartog). This report is one 
of the most important documents of this period and deserves a 
careful perusal. The main findings and recommendations of the 
Committee will be discussed a little later in the appropriate context. 
For the present, we quote below the following summary of its 

Our Review of the growth of education reveals many points 
1 Reportofthe Hartog Committee, p. 31. 

“According to the Government of India Act of 1919, a Royal Commission 
on constitutional reforms was to be appointed in 1929. But owing to the 
continued agitation in India that the Reforms of 1919 were unsatisfactory, a 
Royal Commission, presided over by Sir John Simon, was appointed a little 
earlier in 1927. Under Section 84 — A (3) of the Government of India Act of 
1919 ,this Commission was asked to report on the growth of education in British 
India and was also authorised to appoint, if necessary, an auxiliary committee 
for the purpose. Accordingly the Commission appointed this Committee 
presided over by Sir Philip Hartog, who had served for several years in India 
as a member of the Calcutta University Commission, as the Vice-Chancellor 
of the Dacca University. 



of fundamental interest for the political future of India. The 
largely increased enrolment in primary schools indicates that 
the old time apathy of the masses is breaking down. There has 
been a social and political awakening of the women of India 
and an expressed demand on their behalf for education and 
'social reform. There has been rapid progress in the numbers 
of Muhammadans receiving instruction. Efforts have been made 
to improve the condition of the depressed classes and those 
classes are beginning to respond to that effort and to assert their 
right to education. On all sides there has been a desire on the 
part of leaders of public opinion to understand and to grapple 
with the complex and difficult problems of education; and large 
additional expenditure has been proposed by Education Minis- 
ters, and willingly voted by the legislative councils. That is one 
side of the picture, but there is another. 

Throughout the whole educational system there, is waste and 
ineffectiveness. In the primary system, which from our point of 
view should be designed to produce literacy and the capacity to 
exercise an intelligent vote, the waste is appalling. So far as 
we can judge, the vast increase in numbers in primary schools 
produces no commensurate increase in literacy, for only a small 
proportion of those who are at the primary stage reach Class 
IV, in which the attainment of literacy may be expected. The 
wastage in the case of girls is even more serious than in the case 
of boys .... 

In the sphere of secondary education there has been an ad- 
vance in some respects, notably the average capacity of the body 
of teachers, in their improved conditions of service and training, 
and in the attempt to widen the general activities of school 
life. But here again there are grave defects of organisation. 
The whole system of secondary education is still dominated by 
the ideal that every boy who enters a secondary school should 
prepare himself for the university; and the immense numbers of 
failures at the Matriculation and in the university examinations 
indicate a great waste of effort. Such attempts as have been 
made to provide vocational and industrial training have little 
contact with the educational system and are, therefore, largely 
infructuous. Many of the universities and colleges show marked 
improvement in their methods of teaching and in the amount of 

education under diarchy 327 

original work which they have produced; and in some of them 
there is undQubtedly a better training for corporate life than 
formerly. But the theory that a university exists mainly, if not 
solely, to pass students through examinations still finds too large 
acceptance in India; and we wish that there were more signs 
that the universities regarded the training of broad-minded, 
tolerant and self-reliant citizens as one of their primary func- 
tions. They have been hampered in their work by being over- 
crowded with students who are not fitted by capacity for 
university education and of whom many would be far more 
likely to succeed in other careers. 

We have no doubt that more and more money will be gladly 
voted for education by the legislatures of India but, as we have 
shown, t he im proveme nt and expan sion^ of education do not 
depend merely on money. Money is no doubt essential, but 
even more essential is a well-directed policy carried out by 
eff^lfve^ncTconapetent agencies, determined to eliminate waste 
o£aITEm3 were asked to report on the organisation of 
education. At almost every point that organisation needs 
reconsideration and strengthening; and the relations of the 
bodies responsible for the organisation of education meed 
readjustment. 1 

The main conclusion of the report obviously is that quantity 
has J)een gained at the cost of quality and that the immediate 
need oFTEe hour is to improve quality rather than strive to in- 
crease the numbers still further. Among official circles, this finding 
obtained an immediate and hearty welcome. It really meant a 
victory for the official view of qualitative reform which had 
dominated the scene between 1902 and 1921, and which had been 
set aside by the Indian Ministers between 1922 and 1927. They 
could now turn round and say: “We told you so.” 

Among non-official circles, however, the report was hotly 
criticised, particularly for two reasons. Firstly, the report implied 
a condemnation of the Indian control of education because it 
virtually said that the policy of expansion adopted by Indian 
Ministers was ill-advised. Indian opinion could not accept this 
viewpoint. The general feeling was that, in view of the difficulties 
1 Report, pp. 345-46. 



inherent in the diarchical form of administration, it was a 
surprise that Indian Ministers could achieve even so much. 
Secondly, Indian opinion still felt that the first need of the situa- 
tion was further expansion and the introduction of compulsory 
education. It was not opposed to qualitative reforms; but the 
type of the reforms it demanded was entrely different. For 
instance, if the Hartog Report bewailed the lowering of the 
standard of English, the non-official view complained against the 
domination of English throughout the school and college course, 
proposed that English should be taught as an optional subject, 
and even suggested the study of an Indian language, e.g., 
Hindustani, as a national language in place of English. We need 
not enter at this stage into the details either of the non-official 
criticism of the educational system or of the proposals for reform. 
It will suffice our immediate purpose to state the main tendencies 
whi ch n ationalist thought in education displayecCv/z., thiTprotest 
> agdnst the intellectual domination of the West; the desire to 
create a new educational system suited to national aspirations 
rather than to imitate Western models; the attempt to prove that 
good education is not necessarily costly; and the struggle to show 
how a good system of education could be developed within the 
resources of a poor country like India. 

It will be seen that the cleavage between the official and non- 
official opinions was very wide. Had it been possible for the two 
sides to work together, the gulf might have been bridged. Unfor- 
tunately, the political situation in the country at the time was not 
favourable for such an experiment. The Indian NationaljCongress, 
which w as the most powerful political organisation in the country, 
did not cooperate with Government in working out diarchy. 
Consequently, the Indian Ministers of this period could not really 
command the support of the people. They had to rely too often 
on official support with the result that, in spite of an Indian 
Minister at the top, it was really the I.E.S. that ultimately 
controlled all Governmental policies, especially after 1927. The 
truly Indian view remained outside Government and chose to 
work outside the official system rather than inside it. Consequently, 
in spite of the official transfer of education to Indian control, the 
bureaucratic and the nationalist views still continued to oppose 
each other as in the earlier period (1902-21). The conflict came 


really to a n end only as late asin 1937 when Provincial Autonomy 
was introducedr TSe UEST was mostly liquidated, and the 
Congress’assumed office in most Provinces of India. 

University and Collegiate Education: The period of sixteen years 
between 1921and 1937 is one of great advance in University 
education. Its main events were the following: 

(a) The Inter-University Board: The need for the co-ordination 
of the work of Indian universities was greatly emphasised by the 
Calcutta University Commission. A similar recommendation was 
made by the Indian delegates to the Congress of the Universities 
of the Empire held in 1921. The Lytton Committee on Indian 
students in England also hoped that the Indian universities would 
constitute, at an early date, an Inter-University Board for the 
purpose of co-ordinating the courses of study in India and in 
securing uniformity in their recognition abroad. As a result of 
all these recommendations, the first All-India Conference of Indian 
Universities was held at Simla in 1924 and an Inter-University 
Board was established. The Board consists of representatives of 
all the Indian universities, and has been holding annual meetings 
at different university centres since 1925. It has done useful 
work in several directions and has now become an integral part of 
the organisation of Indian universities. 

(b) Incorporation of New Universities : It will be recalled that 
the Government Resolution on Educational Policy dated 21st 
February 1913, laid down the principle that every province should 
have a university of its own and that teaching universities should 
be established in as many centres as possible. Expansion on these 
lines was carried on during the period under review and five new 
universities came to be incorporated. The Delhi University was 
established for the centrally administrered province of Delhi, and 
the Nagpur University for the Central Provinces and Berar. The 
Andhra University was established for the Telugu-speaking areas 
of the Madras Presidency. The Agra University was incorporated 
as an affiliating university for the United Provinces, Central 
India and Gwalior. And finally, a unitary, teaching and mostly 
residential university was establised at Chidambaram in the 
Madras Presidency and named after its munificent donor. Raja 
Sir Annamalai Chettiar. 


(c) Changes in the Older Affiliating Universities : Many of the 
older universities in India also underwent important changes 
during the period under review. The constitution of the University 
of Madras was considerably modified by the Amending Acts of 
1923 and 1929, that of the Bombay University by the Act of 1928 
and, finally, that of the Patna University by the Act of 1932. The 
object of all these Acts was mainly to improve the administration 
of the universities and to enable them “to provide greater facilities 
for higher education and research* \ The University of Allahabad 
became a purely teaching body during the period under review 
and the Universities of Calcutta and the Punjab undertook ex- 
tensive teaching work. 

(d) Expansion of University Education : The number of 

University Departments and constituent or affiliated colleges 
increased from 207 in 1921-22 to 446 in 1936-37 and the number 
of students attending them from 66,258 to 1,26,228. Besides, a 
number of new faculties were opened and provision was made for 
the teaching of several new courses. 

(e) Provision for Research : An outstanding feature of the 
period under review was the considerable provision for research 
that was made by all the Indian universities. During the period 
1854-1902, the main task of the Indian universities was “not 
so much the encouragement of learning as the liberation of the 
Indian mind from the thraldom of old-world ideas, and the 
assimilation of all that is highest and best in the life, and thought, 
and character of the West*’. 1 In the period 1902-21, the univer- 
sities turned their attention to teaching and research though their 
actual achievements were not considerable. During the period 
1921-37, research work was organised by Indian universities on 
a far larger scale than ever before. This had been done by (a) 
maintenance of libraries and research departments, ( h ) institution 
of research degrees, (c) provision of scholarships and fellowships 
for research, and ( d ) university bulletins or publications. The 
Indian universities had thus already taken the field in the fight for 
the extension of the boundaries of knowledge and there was every 
reason to hope that they would soon begin to play a part that was 
worthy of the hoary traditions of this country. 

(f) Development of Inter -Collegiate and Inter-University Activities: 

x Gokhale's Speeches, 1920, p. 235. 


Another important feature of the period under review was the 
development of inter-collegiate sports and competitions which • 
soon became a 1 feature of almost all Indian universities. fl#* 
Inter-University Board also began to arrange inter-university 
sports and touranments. These activities created healthy contact 
between university students and teachers in various parts of the 
country and formed an important aspect of the growing national 
life of India. 

(g) Intermediate Colleges : One of the most important recom- 

mendations of the Calcutta University Commission was that the 
dividing line between school and university education should be 
drawn at the Intermediate and not at the Matriculation examina- 
tion. The Commission held the view that the intermediate 
classes of Indian universities were really a part of the high school 
course, and that students in these classes could be more effectively 
taught by school methods than by those which were generally 
followed at the universities. The Commission, therefore, 
recommended that a new type of institution called Intermediate 
Colleges should be set up by the addition of two classes to selected 
high schools; and that the university course should begin after the 
Intermediate examination and be spread over three years instead 
of two. With this end in view the Commission also recommended 
the establishment of a Board of Secondary and Intermediate 
Education whose main duty would be to reorganise high school 
and intermediate education on the lines recommended by the 
Commission. 1 

This recommendation made a great impression on Indian 
educational thought, and for a time it appeared to be on the verge 
of universal acceptance. The University Acts that came to be 
passed in the early years after the report of the Calcutta Univer- 
sity Commission excluded or proposed to exclude intermediate 
education from the sphere of universities. Thus the Dacca Uni- 
versity Act, 1921, dissociated intermediate education from its 
sphere and placed it under the control of a non-university board 
under the authority of the Government of Bengal. In the same 
way, the University Acts of Allahabad, Lucknow, and Aligarh, 
also provided for the exclusion of intermediate education from 

x For details of the proposal, vide Chapters 31 and 32 of the Report of the 
Calcutta University Commission , Vol. IV. 


the sphere of the universities and placed it under the control of 
'" two Boards of Secondary and Intermediate Education, one of 
vjjfhich functioned within the territorial limits of the Allahabad 
. and Lucknow Universities and the other within the jurisdiction of 
the Aligarh University. The Delhi University Act, 1922, also 
provided that the University should control intermediate education 
for a period of five years from the date of its foundation, or until 
such further date as the Governor-General-in-Cotmcil may direct. 
Similary, the Madras University Act of 1923 provided that as 
soon as adequate arrangements were made for the supervision and 
control of institutions preparing candidates for the Intermediate 
examination, the Provincial Government might exclude inter- 
mediate education from the purview of the University. 1 

Soon, however, a change came about and educational opinion 
began to turn round and oppose this proposal on the following 
grounds among others: 

(i) Intermediate colleges of the type recommended by the 
Calcutta University Commission had not justified the expectations 
formed of them and a better method of reform would be to im- 
prove the standard of instruction in high schools. 

(ii) The intermediate classes are a source of income to the 
degree colleges which would be faced with a serious financial 
deficit if the intermediate classes are cut off from them. 

(iii) It would not be possible for intermediate colleges to engage 
the services of such competent teachers as were generally availa- 
ble in degree colleges. 

(iv) Both from financial and academic points of view, it was a 
sounder proposition to run the intermediate and the degree 
classes in one institution, for this device enabled the management 
to use the savings in intermediate classes to meet the deficit on 
degree courses and to use the services of able teachers of the 
degree classes for instruction in intermediate classes also. 

(v) This recommendation of the Calcutta University Com- 
mission is inseparably connected with the proposal to lengthen 
the degree course to three years. But this latter reform will not 
be accepted by the public on account of the fact that it increases 
the cost of higher education and postpones the time at which a 
young man should begin his wage-earning career. 

Sections 36 and 37 of the Act. 


(Vi) The separation of intermediate education from the sphere 
of the university would deprive it of the substantial income it now 
receives from the fees of Matriculation and Intermediate , 

For these and other reasons, the question was very hotly debated, 
during the years 1922-26 and educational opinion gradually 
hardened against this reform. An indication of this changing 
outlook is provided by the University Acts passed since 1926. 
The Andhra University Act of 1926, the Bombay University Act 
of 1928, the Annamalai University Act of 1929, and the Patna 
University Act of 1932, definitely permit the universities to control 
intermediate education. Ordinarily, the control of the Delhi 
University over intermediate education ought to have ceased in 
1927; but the period of its control was extended from year to 
year. Even in the United Provinces, where the experiment was 
tried in earnest, opinion turned against the recommendation and 
the Agra University Act of 1 927 permitted the holding of inter- 
mediate classes in colleges affiliated to the University, although 
such classes had been placed under the control of a non-university 
body called “the Board of High School and Intermediate Educa- 
tion”. These instances are enough to show how educational 
thought in India completely turned against the suggestion made 
by the Sadler Commission. 

The Dacca University and three Provinces, viz.. United Pro- 
vinces, the Punjab, and Bihar, took up the suggestion and gave it 
a trial. The Dacca University began its work at the post-inter- 
mediate stage. The United Provinces created a Board of High 
School and Intermediate Education whose duties included 

(1) the conduct of high school and intermediate examinations, 

(2) prescription of the course of studies for the high school and 
intermediate stages, (3) granting of recognition to high schools and 
intermediate colleges, (4) periodical inspection of recognised in- 
stitutions, etc. A large number of intermediate colleges came to 
be organised in this Province; but the complementary recommenda- 
tion of the Commission to lengthen the degree course from two 
years to three was not accepted. The Punjab organised inter- 
mediate colleges mainly with a view to preventing students from 
crowding into Lahore and providing opportunities of higher 
education at mofussil places where it was not possible to organise 


a first-grade college. Bihar tried a few colleges as an experimental 
measure. But no Province adopted a three-year course for the 
first degree. 

The experience gained in these Provinces is worthy of note. 
The Bihar Report for 1931-32 observes that “these institutions 
are not likely to be very successful, because the better students 
will always, if they can, join the first-grade colleges at the first- 
year stage”, 1 and the report for 1936-37 states that “the position, 
as stated by the last quinquennial review remains unchanged, viz .. 
that these institutions are never likely to be very successful”. 2 
The Punjab Report for 1936-37 remarks that “intermediate 
colleges have dwindled in popularity and have not been very 
successful as four-year institutions. Government cannot continue 
to spend sums of money every year on institutions which have not 
justified their existence, especially when funds are more badly 
needed for worthier and more urgent objects”. 8 The report of 
the United Provinces alone is optimistic. It observes that “the 
product of the intermediate colleges is better grounded and more 
able to benefit from advanced instruction that the product of 
intermediate classes attached to degree colleges”. 4 

The Hartog Committee considered the question but did not 
make any definite recommendation. It was also considered by 
the Inter- University Board and the conclusion reached was against 
the recommendation Later on, the question was considered by 
the Central Advisory Board of Education which worked out a 
compromise and suggested that the junior intermediate class 
should form part of the school course and that the senior inter- 
mediate class should form part of the degree course. But the 
suggestion was not adopted anywhere during the period under 

The Hartog Committee on University Education: While 

generally appreciating these advances, the Hartog Committee 
pointed out several weaknesses that had crept into the organisation 
of university education. For instance, it observed that the 

x p. 30. 

2 p. 38. 

8 Government Resolution , p. 2. 

^Report, 1936-37, p. 40. 


universities were not producing leaders of society both from the 
qualitative as well as quantitative points of view; there had been 
a definite lowering of standards due to indiscriminate admissions, 
poor work in secondary schools, and even competition between 
universities; the Honours Courses were not properly organised; 
libraries needed additions; corporate student life needed develop- 
ment; unemployment among university graduates was increasing; 
and that university extension work was just in its infancy. 
The Committee, therefore, strongly felt: “In the interests of 
university education itself and still more in the interests of the 
lower educational institutions which feed the universities and of 
the classes from which university students are drawn, the time 
has come when all efforts should be concentrated on improving 
university work, on confining the university to its proper function 
of giving good advanced education to students who are fit to 
receive it, and, in fact, to making the university a more fruitful 
and less disappointing agency in the life of the community.” 1 

Secondary Education (1921-37): Coming to the field of secondary 
education, we find that the picture is not so happy as in the field 
of university education. It is true that there was a great expansion 
in schools and pupils — even greater than at the collegiate stage; 
but the fundamental defects of the system, except in so far as 
medium of instruction and, to a lesser extent, the problem of 
teachers are concerned, remained unsolved even in 1937. 

(a) Expansion: The expansion of secondary education achieved 
during the period will be seen from the following statistics for 
1921-22 and 1936-37: 



No. of Recognised Secondary Schools 

No of Scholars in Recognised Secondary 





— Figures for British India only, excluding Burma. 

It should be remembered, however, that these figures are 
1 Report y p. 137. 



subject to all those limitations of statistical comparison which were 
pointed out in Chapter VI and they cannot, therefore, be taken as 
giving an exact picture of the extent of secondary education as it 
was either in 1921-22 or in 1936-37; the defects, however, are 
common to both the years and may be ignored for purposes of 
comparison. The statistics show unmistakably the great expansion 
of secondary education that took place during the period. 

This rapid expansion was due to several causes, the more 
important of which were the awakening among the people, the 
opening of secondary schools in semi-urban or rural areas, and 
the special efforts made to spread higher education among the 
less advanced sections of the population. As pointed out in an 
earlier section, the period under review witnessed a great awaken- 
ing among the people. This created a desire for the acquisition 
of higher education; and, consequently, even those sections of the 
population which had not hitherto manifested any strong desire 
for higher education now began to send their children to 
secondary schools in large numbers. 

Secondly, a large number of new secondary schools were 
opened during this period in mofussil towns and bigger villages 
by enterprising individuals and associations. The causes that 
led to the establishment of such schools were several. Very often 
they were either a local patriotism or a desire on the part of 
parents to give secondary education to their children in their own 
locality rather than to send them to distant towns at a tender 
age. Sometimes schools were opened by social workers who 
wanted to spread higher education to rural and backward areas. 
Now and then a new school came to be established as a result of 
unhappy circumstances such as factions in an older school leading 
to a split among the workers. There were also cases in which the 
growing unemployment among the educated classes led some to 
found a school for the simple reason that they could not cultivate 
any other vocation in life. But instances of the latter types were 
indeed few, and it may be stated that the vast majority of the new 
secondary schools of this period belonged to the first two 
categories described above. 

This openingof new secondary schools in the smaller towns, and 
even in bigger villages, was a veritable boon to the parents in the 
rural areas. Formerly, they had to send their children to the 


bigger towns and cities if they desired to give them the benefit of 
secondary education. This was a costly affair; besides as already 
pointed out, parents were generally unwilling to send their children 
to the bigger towns and cities at a very tender age for fear of 
exposing them to all the temptations of a city life. When, how- 
ever, secondary schools came to be opened in rural or semi-urban 
areas, the villages took immediate advantage of the opportunity; 
and this period, therefore, witnessed a great increase in the enrol- 
ment of pupils from rural areas. 

Lastly, this rise was partly due to the extensive efforts that 
were made in this period to spread higher education among wo- 
men and the less advanced classes of the population. These may 
be grouped under three categories: 

(i) Attempts made by Government such as the opening of 
special institutions, reservation of accommodation in Govern- 
ment institutions, awards of scholarships and free student- 
ships, preferential recruitment in Government services, etc.; 

(h) Attempts made by the communities themselves to organise 
funds for awarding scholarships, maintenance of hostels, 
etc.; and 

(in) Attempts made by philanthropic or social service organisations. 

Incidentally, it may be pointed out that most of this expansion 
was due to private enterprise. 

(b) Medium of Instruction: The second important achievement 
of the period under review was the large-scale adoption of the 
modern Indian languages as media of instruction at the secondary 
stage. So far as orders on paper are concerned, the mother- 
tongue could be said to have been exclusively adopted as the 
medium of instruction at the secondary stage; but “theory conflict- 
ed with practice” and for several reasons the use of English as a 
medium of instruction was not completely abandoned. Some of 
these reasons are given below: 

(i) The use of English as a medium of instruction at the Uni- 
versity stage, coupled with the fact that the secondary course is 
merely an appendage of the University course and not a self-con- 
tained unit as it ought to have been, still led several managers of 
schools to adopt English as a medium of instruction. 


(«) Parents as well as pupils desired a proficiency in English 
because the medium of examination in Government Competitive 
Examinations still continued to be English and a person with a good 
command of English generally had a greater chance of success in 
such examinations and in securing employment under Government. 

(iii) In multi-lingual areas where it was not possible, on finan- 
cial grounds, to give instruction through all languages, English 
was often adopted as a medium of instruction. 

(iv) In the earlier stages of the experiment, such difficulties as the 
absence of a scientific terminology, lack of suitable text-books and 
competent teachers, etc., were made much of. Even though these 
complaints had ceased to be of much practical importance, they 
were still used as a reason for the continued use of English. 

(v) In Hindi-Urdu areas— such as the United Provinces — 
difficulties of script were found to be more important than those 
of language. For instance, there was a departmental order in the 
United Provinces, that the Indian language used for instruction 
must be such as can be understood by both Hindi and Urdu 
speaking pupils. In carrying this out, the difficulties of script 
arose and blackboard work had to be carried out in Devanagari 
and Urdu, or Roman scripts. The experiment of using a language 
commonly understood by Hindi and Urdu speaking pupils has, 
however, its practical advantages and there is a growing belief 
that it may lead to the development of a “mixed language. . . 
(which) will make a better language than Sanscritised Hindi or 
Persianised Urdu”, and it is even reported that “a shapely and 
vigorously language is being evolved from the non-descript jargon 
which head-masters complained of at first”. 1 

It may thus be stated that by the year 1937, the question of the 
medium of instruction at the secondary stage had almost ceased 
to exist as a problem . It is true that certain difficulties in the 
way of a complete victory still remained. But it was realised that 
they were not insurmountable. The most formidable obstacle 
was the use of English as the medium at the University stage. 
Hence the attention of educationists now came to be directed to 
such problems as that of the medium of instruction at the Uni- 
versity, the development of a national language for India, and the, 
creation of a uniform scientific terminology. 

P. Vs Report (U. P.) ? 1927-32, p. 42. 


(c) Problems of Teachers in Secondary Schools : The movement 
that had begun in the earlier period in favour of training secondary 
teachers continued with greater force during the period under 
review. In 1936-37, there were 15 institutions for training teachers 
for secondary (English) schools with an enrolment of 1,488 which 
included 147 women. 

The main feature of this period, however, is not the improve- 
ment in the training of secondary teachers but the greater atten- 
tion that now came to be paid to the salaries and conditions of 
service of teachers in private schools which had, by this time, 
expanded and multiplied to a very great extent The salaries of 
these teachers were low because the resources of the private 
secondary schools were far from satisfactory. The conditions of 
service also left a good deal to be desired and, except in rare in- 
stances, there was neither any security of tenure nor any provision 
for old age. These difficulties of teachers soon attracted notice 
and some attempts were made to improve the pay and conditions of 
service in non-Government secondary schools. 

(d) Provision of Vocational Courses*. The problem of providing 
vocational education at the secondary stage became even more 
important and complicated in this period than in the preceding 
one. This was due to three causes: Firstly, the expansion of 
secondary education led to the enrolment of many a pupil who 
was not quite “at home” in the almost exclusively literary edu- 
cation that was offered in the average secondary school and who 
would have been able to attain a better self-expression through 
the pursuit of some vocational skill; secondly, the opening of a 
large number of secondary schools in rural areas created a problem 
which did not exist before, viz., the adaptation of the secondary 
school to rural needs and environment; and finally, the large 
increase in the number of girls’ secondary schools created the 
problem of devising special courses suited to their requirements. 
Unfortunately, no satisfactory solution of the problem could be 
evolved. The Government of India, therefore, requested His 
Majesty’s Government to send some experts to India in order to 
study the problem and make recommendations. Accordingly, 
M essrs. Wood a nd Abbot came to India and afterli detailed 

an important report on the proper organisation 

pf vocational education j n I^dia, 





The Hartog Committee on Secondary Education: The Hartog 
Committee’s survey of secondary education, like that of universi- 
ties, is not comprehensive and stresses only a few major defects 
and suggests remedies. It found that the whole of the secondary 
course was dominated by the matriculation examination; that 
most of the pupils sought the narrow path that led, through the 
matriculation, to the universities; and that the percentage of 
failures at the matriculation examinations was very large in several 
cases. This involved the waste of time, effort, and money of the 
pupils and was, in the opinion of the Committee, mainly due to 
(a) laxness of promotions in the secondary schools from class to 
class and (b) the absence of a reasonable selective system which 
would never have permitted very many of the pupils, then reported 
to be reading at the high school stage, to advance so far on the 
road to collegiate education. In order to remove these and other 
evils of the system of secondary education the Committee made 
the following recommendations: 

(a) Diverting Pupils to Non-literary Pursuits : With a view to 
reducing the domination of the matriculation, the Committee 
recommend that: 

(i) The retention in the middle vernacular schools of more 
of the boys intended for rural pursuits, accompanied by 
the introduction of a more diversified curriculum in those 

(ii) The diversion of more boys to industrial and commercial 
careers at the end of the middle stage, for which provision 
should be made by alternative courses in that stage, 
preparatory to special instruction in technical and indus- 
trial schools. 1 

(b) Improvement in the Training and Service Conditions of 
Secondary Teachers : Even more important was the recommenda- 
tion of the Committee that something should be done to improve 
the service conditions of secondary teachers. While appreciating 
the improvement that had been brought about in the training of 
secondary teachers since 1904, the Committee felt that a good deal 
of further action was still necessary. It said; 

1 Report, p. 107, 

As in the case of primary schools, the average quality of the 
teacher and of the teaching depends to & considerable extent on 
the pay and conditions of service. The best type of men cannot 
be attracted to the profession so long as these remain unsatis- 
factory and only too frequently the teachers have no heart in 
their work. In no province is the pay of the teacher sufficient 
to give him the status which his work demands and in some 
provinces, e.g., Bengal and Bihar, the pay of the teacher is often 
woefully low. The conditions of service, though still far from 
satisfactory, have improved in recent years and provident fund 
and pension schemes have been widely introduced. But the most 
serious difficulty facing the teacher in the great majority of 
privately managed schools and in some managed by local 
bodies, is insecurity of tenure. Generally, no contracts or agree- 
ments are made and teachers are frequently sent away at short 
notice. We have had it in evidence that some schools even 
make it a practice to recruit teachers temporarily for nine 
months, thus avoiding the payment of vacation salaries, the pay- 
ment of increments and the necessity for appointing permanent 
trained men. The salaries of teachers are not infrequently paid 
very irregularly and compulsory levies for school purposes are 
sometimes made from the teachers’ slender earnings. In spite 
of what has been done in recent years, the conditions of service 
of the teacher must be greatly altered before the quality of 
secondary education can become satisfactory. 1 

Pr imar y Education: The most important event of the history of 
Indian education un<^r diarchy is the rapid^ development of mass 
education. We have seen In Chapter VIII that the slow advance 
of mass education was one of the weakest links in the modern edu- 
cational system of India, and that Government policy had often 
been criticised On that account. Indian public opinion had shown 
a very keen interest in mass education and the liquidation of 
illiteracy and it was, therefore, generally expected that the Indian 
Ministers would try their best to grapple with the problem of uni- 
versal, free, and compulsory, primary education. This, in fact, 
they did; and the following brief notes will show how this war 
against illiteracy was generally planned. 

1 Report , pp. 117-18. 


(a) Primary Education Acts’. The most important event of the 
dpcade 1917-27 was the passing of Compulsory Education Acts 
in most of the provinces of British India. Some of these Acts, it 
is true, were passed prior to the transfer of the Education Depart- 
ment to Indian Ministers. But, as action on most of them began to 
be taken only during the period under review, more appropriately, 
their study forms part of the development of education under 

The following table shows the details regarding the various pro- 
vincial Acts of compulsory education as they were in force at the 
end of this period: 



Name of the 

whether for 
Boys or Girls 

Whether applicable 
to Rural or Urban 



Primary Edu- 
cation Act 













Boys (extended 
to girls by an 
amendment in 


9 9 

Bihar and 






City of Bombay 
P. E. Act 


Applicable to City 
of Bombay only 




P. E. Act 



9 9 


Education Act 

9 9 




P. E. Act 


9 9 

Applicable to the 
whole of the 
Province except 
Bombay City 



; 99 



1 9 



District Boards 
P. E. Act 

9 9 

To rural areas only 



Bengal (Rural) 
P. E. Act 




A detailed study of each individual Act is beyond the scope of 
this book. But the following comments on their main features 
will be found interesting: 

These Acts transferred large powers of administration and 
control over primary education to the local authorities, i.e., to the 
local self-government institutions which were entrusted with the 
responsibility of making adequate provision for primary education 
in their areas. 

t(fl) All the Acts make it a duty of the local authorities to study 
the needs of their areas and to prepare schemes for the expansion 
and development of primary education within their jurisdiction. 
idi) In all the Acts, the initiative in the matter of introducing 
compulsion is left with the local authorities; and in some Acts, 
as in Bombay, power is reserved to Government in certain cir- 
cumstances, to take the initiative in introducing and enforcing 
compulsory education. 

(iV) In all provinces, the local authorities are given the power 
to levy an educational cess in order to meet their own share of 
the cost of providing primary education, whether on a compulsory 
or on a voluntary basis. 

(v) In all provinces. Government undertakes to assist the local 
authorities financially in order to enable them to introduce com- 
pulsory education. 

(v/) The age of compulsion for elementary education varies from 
province to province. In provinces with a four years’ course, it is 
generally fixed at 6 to 10 except in the Punjab where the optional 
age-period of 7 to 11 is also provided; on the other hand, in pro- 
vinces with a five years’ course, the age of compulsion is generally 
fixed at 6 to 11. 

(vk) The Acts make provision for prosecuting parents for failure 
to send their children to school, and all Acts, except that of 
Madras, penalise the employment of children within the age- 
period of compulsion in areas where compulsory education is 

The above analysis will show that the view taken in most of the 
provinces was that primary education is a subject of local adminis- 
tration and responsibility. It was in pursuance of this view only 
that Provincial Governments liberalised the constitution of local 
self-government institutions, gave them additional powers of 


taxation, and made them responsible for the introduction and en- 
forcement of compulsoiy primary education. This devolution of 
authority in primary education to local self-government institutions 
is the second forward step in the development of such institutions 
v' -the first having been initiated by. Lord Ripon— and forms the 
most important characteristic of the period under review. 

(b) Achievements of the Period 1922-27: As may be easily 
anticipated the expansion of primary education was very rapid 
in the quinquennium 1922-27. The following statistics tell their 
own tale: 


Economic conditions have improved, the finances of the pro- 
vinces have expanded, post-war difficulties have largely disap- 
peared, public interest has been directed towards primary and 
mass education, programmes of educational expansion have been 
undertaken both under and outside of the Elementary Education 
Acts in the various provinces, a large number of new schools 
have been opened, unrecognised schools have been recognised, 
and the number of areas in which compulsion has been introdu- 
ced has increased. 1 

Table I 
General Results 



1. Number of Primary Schools 

2. Number of Pupils in Primary Schools 

3. Expenditure on Primary Education 










Table II 

Areas under Compulsion 

JV.A— The rural areas in the Punjab are the areas served by individual 

Commenting on these results, the Quinquennial Review of the 
Progress of Education in India , 1922-27, observes: 

The causes for this accelerated expansion are not far to seek. 

(c) The Report of the H'artog Committee: The next quin 
quennium, however, witnessed a slackening of the pace of 
expansion due mainly to two causes: the first was the economio 
depression to which we have already referred. This led to the 
abandonment of most of the schemes of expansion and even 
necessitated large cuts in existing expenditure. The second cause 
of the slackening was the recommendation of the Hartog 
Committee to the effect that Government should adopt a policy 
of consolidation rather than of expansion — a recommendation 
that came generally to dominate official viewpoint during the 
decade 1927-37. 

To begin with, the Committee pointed out that there wer t special 
difficulties in the path of the progress of primary education such as 
th e follow ing: 

( i^ Primary education in India is essentially a rural probelm 
as 87 per cent of the population lives in villages; 

(iif Poverty, illiteracy, and conservatism of the average parent 
which make him slow to appreciate the advantages of education, 
unwilling to send his children to a school or to keep them there 
for a sufficiently long period, and unable to make the financial 
sacrifices which are necessary to secure good education; 

(ir$ Low density of population coupled very often with scantiness 
of the means of communication, physical obstacles as in hilly 
areas or deltas, and unfavourable climatic conditions; 

(U/) Existence of large tracts of backward areas; 

(vf Irregularity of attendance due to causes mentioned in 
(b) above and also to epidemic and seasonal illness; and 

(vi) Difficulties created by barriers of caste, and by religious, 
J pp. 115-16. 


communal and linguistic differences. 

The Committee then drew attention to the rapid growth in the 
number of primary schools and the pupils attending them but 
came to the conclusion that the position was not as rosy as the 
figures would lead one to infer. The Committee found that there 
was a good deal of waste in the system which acted as a set-off 
against the progress in numbers. In the opinion of the Com- 
mittee, the main causes of this waste were (a) wastage and 
stagnation; (b) relapse into illiteracy; ( c ) absence of systematic 
efforts at adult education; (d) inadequate provision, unsatisfactory 
distribution, and inadequate utilisation of existing schools; large 
numbers of single-teacher schools; existence of several incomplete 
schools; ephemeral character of many primary schools; unsuitable 
curriculum; ineffective teaching; and inadequacy of inspecting 
staff. The Committee, therefore, definitely condemned a policy of 
hasty expansion and recommended concentration on consolidation 
and improvement. Its main recommendations may be briefly 
summarised as under: 

(/) A policy of consolidation should be adopted in preference 
to one of diffusion. 

(ii) The minimum duration of the primary course should be of 
four years. 

(iii) The standard of the general education of primary teachers 
should be raised; the training course should be sufficiently long; 
the training institutions for primary teachers should be adequately 
staffed and made more efficient; refresher courses and conferences 
of primary teachers must be frequently arranged; and the re- 
muneration and conditions of service of primary teachers should 
be such as will enable the profession to attract and retain men of 
good quality. 

(iv) The curriculum of primary schools should be liberalised. 

(v) School hours and school holidays should be adjusted to 
seasonal and local requirements. 

(vi) Special attention should be given to the lowest class in 
primary schools and determined efforts should be made to reduce 
the large extent of stagnation and wastage that prevail therein. 

(v«) Rural uplift work should be undertaken and centred in the 

(viii) The devolution of authority in primary education to 


local bodies has been excessive. Primary education is a subject 
of national importance and hence it is the duty of Government 
to assume necessary powers of control and improve the efficiency 
of administration. 

(ix) The inspecting staff of Government should be considera- 
bly strengthened. 

(x) No hasty attempts should be made to introduce compul- 
sion but attention should be directed to a careful preparation of 
the ground. 

Criticism of the Hartog Committee’s Report— The Official View: 
This report was warmly received in official circles and came to 
dominate official thought throughout the period under review. 
A study of the reports of the provincial Directors of Public Instruc- 
tion of this period shows a general uniformity of ideas; such 
defects as the prevalence of wastage and stagnation, extreme 
devolution of authority to local bodies, inadequacy of the inspect- 
ing staff, are found to be frequently emphasised. The official view 
was still predominantly in favour of the policy of consolidation 
which had been laid down by the Government Resolution of 1913. 
Out of deference to the strong public opinion, it had temporarily 
accepted the policy of expansion which thus held the field in the 
quinquennium 1922-27. The Report of the Hartog Committee, 
however, came as a triumph to the official view; for it attempted 
to show that a policy of expansion had proved ineffective and 
wasteful and that a policy of consolidation alone was suited to 
Indian conditions. 

A brief survey of the provincial policies of this period will be 
found very interesting. For instance, there was a protest from 
many quarters “against a reckless and impetuous multiplication 
of primary schools” 1 . The Central Provinces report for 1927-32 
takes consolation in the thought that “inefficient schools have 
been removed from the struggle. . .several schools with compara- 
tively small enrolment have been closed”. 2 The Bihar and Orissa 
report for 1927-32 states that in the earlier years of the quin- 
quennium, “many boards and individuals opened schools more 
rapidly than was prudent” 8 and adds that the effects of retrenchment 

l Quinquenniai Review, 1927-32 p. 4 

*p. 42. 

3 p. 51. 


were salutary as it led to the disappearance of unaided 
institutions. In Bombay, the primary schools increased by a 
meagre 797 in five years (1927-32) — an event on which the Educa- 
tional Commissioner with the Government of India felt called 
upon to observe that it was doubtful “whether, with its depleted 
finances, this province can afford to multiply its primary schools 
at so rapid a pace, especially when other aspects of education need 
prior attention ”. 1 In Madras, the number of primary schools 
decreased from 46,389 in 1927 to 41,141 in 1937 and the Director 
observed: “The policy of expansion which was in full swing 
between 1920 and 1930, countenanced the establishment of a large 
number of inefficient, uneconomic and superfluous schools which 
proved worse than useless. This policy of expansion has led to- 
the recent reaction in favour of concentration and elimination, 
which is partly responsible for the reduction in the number of 
elementary schools.’’ 2 We need not multiply instances. Those 
given above will show how the report of the Hartog Committee 
came to dominate the official viewpoint during this period. 

Criticism of the Hartog Committee's Report — The Non-Official 
View: On the other hand, the non-official view, in general, gave 
a cold and hostile reception to the Hartog Committee’s Report. 
The main points in this criticism may be summarised as under: 

(i) The non-official opinion was generally in favour of expansion, 
and a very rapid expansion at that. It was pointed out that the 
rate of expansion of mass literacy in India was extremely slow; 
that the precentage of literacy had increased from 3.5 in 1881 to 
only 8.0 in 1931 — an increase of less than one per cent in every 
decade; that the rate of increase of literacy had not kept pace 
with the growth of population— which increased at one per cent 
every year; that the increase in the number of illiterates was far 
greater than the increase in the number of literates; “that educa- 
tion must pour and not trickle”; and that unless a definite pro- 
gramme for the liquidation of illiteracy was drawn up and carried 
out, the question of mass education in India would never be 

( a ) Secondly, the non-official view did not accept the opinion 
of the Committee that quality must have prior claim over quantity. 

1 Quinquennial Review, 1927-32, p. 128 (Italics ours). 

* Report for 1932-37, p. 86. 


Whatever the merits of this view in the field of secondary or 
university education, it was urged that in a country like India 
with 92 per cent of its population still illiterate, the first object 
of Government policy should be to banish illiteracy from the 
✓ land; and that the quality of education was a matter that should 
come after illiteracy had been liquidated. 

(iii) Thirdly, the validity of several of the conclusions drawn up 
by the Committee was keenly contested. For instance, it was 
pointed out that the extent of wastage was greatly exaggerated 
by the Committee and that the method adopted by it for the 
evaluation of wastage was statistically defective; that the con- 
clusion of the Committee that a large percentage of the pupils 
who attain literacy in schools lapse into illiteracy at a later date 
is logically inaccurate, etc. 

These criticisms which are but a few among those that were 
actually offered show how the gulf between official and non- 
official views., had widened during the period under review. In 
1937, therefore, India stood almost at the parting of the ways. It 
had to make its choice between these two views and accept either 
a policy of rapid expansion involving, if necessary, a loss of quality 
or one of a deliberate attempt to improve quality necessarily 
involving a curtailment of a programme of expansion. 

(d) Achievements of the Period 1927-31: The combined effect 
of the lead given by the Hartog Committee and of the financial 
stringency caused by the world economic depression was that 
primary education made comparatively little progress in the period 
between 1927 and 1937. Compare the following statistics: 



1931-32 ] 


1. No. of recognised 
Primary Schools 



1,96,708 1 


2. No. of pupils in 





3. Total direct expen- 





diture on primary 






It will be seen that the increase of pupils under instruction in 
the ten years between 1927 and 1937 is only slightly more than 
that in the quinquennium 1922-27; the increase in the number 
of schools is only 7,415 while that in the preceding quinquennium 
was 29,812; and the increase in expenditure is only about Rs. 138 
lakhs, while that in the earlier quinquennium was about Rs. 181 
lakhs. Even towards this small increase, Government contribu- 
tion was smaller than that of the non-Government sources. 

Similarly, we find that no serious attempts were made either to 
introduce compulsion extensively or to enforce it rigidly. The 
position of areas under compulsion in 1936-37 may be summarised 
as under: 






No. of 
villages in 
Rural Areas 



7 I 








United Piovinces 












Central Provinces and Berar 




















The following special features of the situation may be noted: 

(/) Much greater progress has been made in urban areas than 
in rural ones. This is due to two causes; firstly, the conditions 
in urban areas are more favourable to the introduction of compul- 
sion; and secondly, both Government and the local authorities 
are tempted to take up schemes in urban areas because the addi- 
tional cost of compulsion in these areas is far less than that of 
compulsion in rural ones. 

(//) Except in the Punjab, the progress of compulsion in rural 
areas has been extremely slow. Out of the five lakhs of villages 
in India, only about 13,072 villages have been brought under 



compulsion. Out of these, as many as 10,450 were in the Punjab 
alone. The problem of compulsion is mainly a rural problem and 
hardly any adequate attempt has yet been made to solve it. 

(tii) Compulsion is needed more for girls than for boys; and 
yet more boys have been brought under compulsion than girls. 
In some provinces, e.g., the Punjab, compulsion can be applied 
only to boys; in other provinces, even though the law permits the 
application of compulsion to girls, most of the compulsory 
schemes were applicable only to boys. 

(iv) The rate of extension of compulsion has been very slow. 
At the rate of progress seen in this period, it would take India 
nearly 500 years to introduce universal compulsion. In Bombay, 
for example, the Primary Education Act of 1923 contemplated 
the introduction of universal compulsion in ten years. But even 
in 1937, fourteen years after the passing of the Act, only 3 per 
cent of the population was brought under compulsion. (The City 
of Bombay which is not governed by the above Act has been 
excluded in these calculations.) 

(v) Even in the few areas where compulsion has been intro- 
duced, its enforcement was far from satisfactory. The enrolment 
of children was not appreciable, and generally only about 60 to 
80 per cent of the total number of the children of school-going 
age were enrolled. The average attendance was low and hardly 
better than in schools where no compulsion existed. Wastage 
in compulsory areas was as bad as in non-compulsory ones. The 
local authorities were unwilling to prosecute defaulting parents 
and very few prosecutions were launched under the Compulsory 
Education Acts. To sum up, it may be said that compulsion 
was not enforced in a rigid manner and that it existed more or 
less on paper only. 

The official attempts, therefore, were concentrated throughout 
the period on qualitative improvement. The success achieved in 
this direction was not, however, remarkable. There was some im- 
provement in the training of teachers— the percentage of trained 
teachers rising from 44 in 1927 to 57 in 1937. There were also seve- 
ral changes in the curriculum of training institutions mainly with a 
view to enabling teachers to co-ordinate instructions with rural life 
and environment. In some provinces, an attempt was also made 
tp recruit “more suitable” candidates for training institutipns, 





This is all that can be said by way of achievements. The rest 
of the record is hardly one of success. Even at the end of the 
period, official reports still pointed out the very large prevalence 
of wastage and stagnation; hardly any attempt was made to 
provide reading rooms and libraries with a view to altering the 
environment that leads to lapse into illiteracy; the provision of 
the inspecting staff was even more inadequate at the end of the 
period, because “the expansion of education, particularly that of 
girls, had out-distanced the provision of additional inspectors”; 1 
the single-teacher schools still dominated the situation, as indeed 
they threaten to do to the end of time; and the salaries of primary 
teachers deteriorated in Bombay— where they were the highest — 
and did not improve in other provinces. All things considered, 
it may be concluded that the improvement in quality was not 
appreciable and was by no means an adequate compensation for 
the loss in quantity. 

The Education Departments: The character and organisation of 
the Departments of Education underwent a complete change 
during the period under review. As stated already, fresh recruit- 
ment to the I.E.S. was discontinued in 1924. But owing to 
financial stringency and the wave of retrenchment that started in 
1 922, the creation of a new Provincial Service (Class I) to take 
its place took a long time in most provinces. The delay was also 
partly due to the fact that the I.E.S. ‘took an unconscionable time 
in dying’, 2 as all the existing incumbents were continued in office 
with full protection for their rights and privileges. In 1929, the 
Hartog Committee found that the progressive extinction of the 
Indian Educational Service, accompanied by the failure to recons- 
titute the provincial services had been disastrous to the organisa- 
tion of Indian education, and recommended that the reconstitution 
of the provincial educational services could brook no further 
delay. 3 This made the Provincial Governments immediately 
active and by 1936-37, a Provincial Service (Class I) had been 
created in all Provinces except Madras and the North-West 

1 Progress of Education in India, 1932-37, p. 34. 

■ Quinquennial Review, 1927-32, p. 47. 

8 Report , p. 347. 

The inadequacy of inspecting staff was another frequent cause 
of complaint in this period. On the one hand, the number of 
educational institutions, particularly those under private manage- 
ment, was increasing very fast. On the other hand, financial 
^ stringency (coupled with the view that large “overhead expenditure” 
on direction and inspection was unnecessary) was preventing a 
corresponding increase in inspecting establishment. This often 
resulted in educational inefficiency. 

But by far the more important controversy of this period 
referred to the relations of the Department to primary education. 
Prior to 1921, the Education Departments exercised a considerable 
amount of control over primary education although the subject 
was, in theory at least, transferred to local bodies. But, as 
shown earlier in this chapter, the Primary Education Acts passed 
between 1919 and 1930, transferred large powers of control to 
local bodies with the result that the Department had hardly any 
say in the administration of local bodies. It almost seemed that 
no sooner did the Indian Ministers obtain authority over educa- 
tion, than they proceeded straight to divest themselves of the 
largest and the most valuable part of that authority by transfer- 
ring primary education to local bodies. The wisdom and the results 
of this step became the subject of a controversy very early in this 
period. The Hartog Committee examined it in detail and pro- 
nounced against it. The Committee, it is true, did not think that 
the administration of primary education by local bodies was 
wrong in principle. Rather, it felt that such administration would 
even be desirable. All the same, it did feel that there had been 
an excessive devolution of authority to local bodies. Moreover, 
it carefully surveyed the manner in which the local bodies had 
used the new powers delegated to them and came to the conclu- 
sion that, on the whole, they had not been properly exercised. 
In view of all the facts of the case, therefore, the Committee was 
of opinion that, in the interests of primary education, it was 
absolutely essential to strengthen the position of the Department 
and to retransfer to it some of the powers that had been devolved 
on local authorities in recent years. It said: 

We have not suggested, nor do we suggest that the responsi- 
bilities of Ministers in the provinces should be reduced. On 


the contrary, we are of opinion that they have been reduced too 
much already by a devolution on local bodies which has taken 
the control of primary education to a large extent out of their 
hands with unfortunate results. The relations between Provin- 
cial Governments and local bodies demand further consideration 
and adjustment. The formation of an educated electorate is a 
matter for the nation. Under recent legislation, powers have 
been devolved on local bodies in such a way that the Ministers 
responsible to the legislature have no effective control of the 
expenditure of money voted for mass education; and in some 
cases, owing to inadequate inspection, they have little informa- 
tion as to the results of that expenditure. It is clear that the 
new factor of ministerial responsibility has not been taken 
sufficiently into account. 1 

y National Education (1921-37): After the upheaval of 1920-22 
had cooled down, the movement of national education received 
a quantitative set-back in the sense that the number of educational 
institutions which described themselves as “national” was very 
greatly reduced. The old idea of asking the students in the 
ordinary institutions to come out and of providing a parallel 
system of schools for them was primarily based, as stated earlier, 
on the view that Swaraj would be won in one year. But as it be- 
came more and more evident that the political struggle would 
continue for some years to come, the concept of running a parallel 
educational system was more or less given up. Lala Lajpat Rai 
had already advocated the view that a system of national educa- 
tion can be provided, not by private enterprise, but only by a 
National State so that the development of national education 
would have to await the attainment of freedom. This view came 
to be accepted more and more with the result that the work of 
national education was now restricted to the organisation of a 
few institutions on an experimental basis. This was a change for 
the better because the limited resources in men and money could 
now be harnessed to the development of new ideas and concepts 
rather than be dissipated in mass work at a lower level. 

's/ r (o) The Jamia Millia Islamia : The several national universities 
that came into existence between 1920 and 1921 had more or less 
1 Report , pp. 346-47, 


a , c ^ eq . uered career - Mention may be made of the Vidyaoeeths 
of Gujarat, Bihar and Kashi. But the Jamia Millia Islamia con- 
tinued to do active and useful work. For administrative reasons 
it was shifted from Aligarh to Delhi in 1925. It refused to seek 
recognition at the hands of Government for, in the words of its 
promoters, it preferred “the hardships and ordeals of an honour- 
able independence to the enervating security of a permanent grant 
which would frustrate its noblest ambitions”. Its objects were 
stated as follows: 

(0 It seeks to broaden the education of the youth on their 
own cultural heritage without rejecting what is true and useful 
id the culture of others. It inculcates the spirit of service of 
tolerance, of self-control and self-respect. 

(h) It aims at building character by providing adequately for 

the intellectual and emotional needs of the growing mind and 
affording constant opportunity for active self-expression, and by 
replacing the discipline of fear by the development of initiative 
and responsibility. 

The Jamia Millia was conducting: 

(i) A residential University College, imparting higher instruc- 
tion in the arts and social sciences, with special provision for 
imparting instruction in modern languages and social sciences 
to graduates of Arabic Madressahs. There is a library for 
reference and study consisting of over 20,000 volumes, and a 
Natural Science Laboratory. 

(»/) A residential High School on modern lines with oppor- 
tunities for developing skill in the arts and crafts, with special 
emphasis on individual work. 

(Hi) A residential Primary School, conducted mostly on the 
Project Method, with a school garden, a school bank and co- 
operative shop, managed entirely by the boys. 

(iv) The Jamia Education Centre No. 1, the first of a 
projected number of centres for primary and adult education. 

(v) The Jamia Chemical Industries, attached to the Jamia 
Science Laboratory for manufacturing various chemical 
preparations of daily use. 

(Vi) The Urdu Academy, which, by its publications, has 
made a substantial contribution to serious literature in Urdu, 


(vii) The Jamia , an Urdu monthly magazine of Social 
Science and Literature. 

(viii) The Maktaba [(Jamia Book Depot), with about the 
largest stock of Urdu books and a creditable record in the 
publication of educational literature. 

About four hundred students from various parts of India and 
other Asiatic lands were studying in the Jamia. 

The Jamia had no permanent funds; and according to the 
promoters °may never have any beyond the courage and sacrifice 
of those who are conducting it and the appreciation and sympathy 
of the public’*. It received substantial aid from the Governments 
of H.E.H. the Nizam and Bhopal and also from the Delhi 
Municipality. But its biggest source of income was the large 
number of its supporters called Hamdardane Jamia , whose 
number is about 7,000, and who contributed a part of their 
earnings to the maintenance of the Jamia. 

(b) The Viswa-Bharati : Another institution of an All-India 
character that was brought into existence without reference to 
Government grants was the Viswa-Bharati which was founded 
and endowed by Dr. Rabindranath Tagore on 6th May 1972, 
with the declared object of 

(z) bringing the diverse cultures of the East into more intimate 
relationship with one another; 

(ii) approaching the science"andjculture of the West from the 
standpoint of their unity; and 

(iii) realising in common fellowship and humanitarian activity, 
the concord of the East and the West, and thus bringing about 
the conditions that may lead to world harmony. 

The institution is co*educational and residential and attracted 
students, not only from every part of India, but also from distant 
parts of Asia and Europe. It maintains the following departments: 

(/) Vidya-Bhavana , or a School ©f Research, where facilities 
are available for research in Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, Hindi, 
Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and Bengali literature and in Indian 
philosophy, Buddhism, and Indian mysticism; 

(ii) Cheena-Bhavana, or a School of Sino-Indian studies. 
Which hgs a library of about 190,000 volumes in Chinese. Its 


object is to encourage Indian students to study Chinese culture 
and vice versa ; 

(fii) Shiksha-Bhavana, or a College which is affiliated to the 
Calcutta University; 

v^(iv) Kala-Bhavana y or a department of Fine Arts, which has 
introduced a new school of painting that has received world- 
wide recognition; 

v^v) Sangit-Bhavana , or a School of Music and Dancing; 

vi ) Sriniketan , or an Institute of Rural Reconstruction; and 
v'(vzz) Silpa»Bhavana 9 or a School of Industries whose objects 
are the encouragement and promotion of the cottage industries 
in the district. 

In connection with the problem of national education, mention 
must also be made of certain great institutions which continued 
working independently of the official system and trying to revive 
the ideals of ancient Hindu or Muslim education. Of the several 
institutions of this type, we choose three as representative — the 
Gurukul University which tries to revive ideals of ancient Indian 
education and the DaruUUloom 9 Deoband, and the DaruUUloom 
Nadwatul Ulema , Lucknow, which try to revive Muslim ideals in 

~*{a) The Gurukul University: The Gurukul University was 
established by the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Punjab, in 1902. It 
began as a small elementary school and has now grown into a 
full-fledged university. From the very beginning, the university 
has refused Government grants and has, therefore, been indepen- 
dent of all Government influence and control. In 1924, it was 
shifted to its present site at Kangri where it conducts its work 
in “sylvan solitude’* which is “free from the uneducational 
influences of city life”. It admits students between the ages 
of six and eight (or even ten, in cases of exceptional fitness). The 
ordinary course of instruction runs over 14 years and at the end 
of it, a student becomes a Snataka or graduate. After a further 
study of two years, he gets the degree of Vachaspati or doctorate. 
The Gurukula system is both for boys and girls and a Gurukula 
for girls teaching up to the college standard has been working at 
Dehradun since 1923. 


In the first four classes Sanskrit, Hindi, Arithmetic, Geogra- 
P y* Drawing, History, Religion and Morality are taught. For 
what is called hand-and-eye-training, lessons are given in clay- 
modelling, mat-weaving, spinning, kindergarten, etc. In the 
fifth class, English and physical science are added. After the 
Adhikari or Entrance examination, the students join the univer- 
sity classes, which are divided into three colleges, namely, Veda 
Mahavidyalaya or Divinity College, Sadharana Mahavidyalaya 
or Arts College and Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya or Medical 
College. In the first two colleges, Veda, Darshana (i.e., Indian 
Philosophy), Sanskrit Literature, English, History, Economics, 
Western Philosophy, Comparative Study of Religions, and 
Chemistry form the subjects of study. In some of these 
subjects, students take also the post-graduate course. In the 
Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya, in addition to ancient Indian medi- 
cine, instruction is given in modern medical science. The 
medium of instruction in the university as a whole is Hindi and 
very great importance is assigned to the study of Sanskrit. 

The Gurukiila system o£education tries to revive certain ideals 
of ancient Indian education. Its fundamental principles have been 
thus stated: 

v/ (i) Education must be imparted in residential institutions 
which will combine the home and the school in one. The word 
Gurukula means the home of the teacher . Under the Gurukula 
system the child moves from the smaller family of the father to 
the bigger family of the teacher, but the atmosphere of the home 
is continued to be maintained and he gets the best of both the 
home and the school. 

/ («) Education must be free; and free lodging and boarding 
must be provided for every child in the home of the teacher. 

\/ (iii) Birth or status shall not be a discriminating factor in 
the development of any child. Equality of treatment is accord- 
ed to all and all children live alike, dress alike, and spend their 
days alike. 

^ (?v) A consistent attempt is made to inculcate the qualities 
of endurance and hardihood. 

v'iv) Great emphasis is laid on the building up of character. 


on the observance of Brahmacharya, and the sublimation of the 


(b) Darul-Uloom, Deoband : This institution was established in 
1864. It is a Muslim University conducted on orthodox lines 
and attracts students, not only from all parts of India, but also 
from all parts of the Islamic world. It is regarded as the fourth 
Muslim University of the world, the first three being Jamia 
Azfiar, Jamia Zetuna and Jamia Tunis. This is a fully residential 
university and instruction is imparted in Arabic, Persian, Tajveid 
(reciting of the Holy Quran), Tybb (Unani Medicine) and Tabligh 
(missionary activity). There is also a Department of Arts and 
Crafts and drill and physical training are emphasised. Its 
alumni, after passing out, suffix the term Deobandi to their names 
and are awarded the Fazil degree. It has about 1,600 students on 
its rolls out of whom about 100 were from outside India. 

(c) Darul-Uloom Nadwatul Ulema 9 Lucknow. This institution 
was established in 1898 and its ideological position is midway 
between the orthodox university of Deoband or a modern uni- 
versity like Aligarh. It turns out a type which may be termed 
the modern Moulvi} This institution also attracts students from 
all parts of India and other Islamic countries. Its alumni sufix 
the term Nadvi to their names. The number of students stood 
at 300 during this period, and like the Darul-Uloom, Deoband, 
this is also a residential institution. 

It should not be supposed, ho we veil that the concept of national 
education was restricted within the four walls of the few places 
that described themselves as national . Some of its aspects were 
becoming commoner and were even being adopted by the official 
system. For instance, the success in introducing the modern 
Indian languages as media of instruction in most secondary 
schools which was achieved in this period was due mainly to the 
struggle over national education. Similarly, the attempts made 
at this time to evolve a national language and to popularise it 
were also a sequel to the upheaval of national education. Even 
the atmosphere within the recognised schools began to change a 
great deal. The old insistence on photographs of the King- 
Emperor or the singing of “God Save the King” now almost 

1 Muslim Year-Book, of India , 1948-49, p. 244. 

360 A students’ history OF EDUCATION IN INDIA 

disappeared, especially in private schools; photographs of national 
leaders began to be seen in schools and were not objected to; 
except on a few tense occasions, the singing of Vande Mataram 
and other national songs became a common thing in most school 
assemblies; and, in short, an atmosphere more favourable to the 
development of patriotism began to prevail in secondary and 
collegiate institutions. These and such other indirect victories of 
national education, therefore, can be said to have more than 
compensated for the loss in numbers. 

Adult Literacy* This review of the principal events in the 
educational history of India between 1921 and 1937 may now 
be closed with a brief account of another field in which useful 
pioneer work was done at this time, viz., the problem of spreading 
literacy among the adults. Although literacy is not equivalent 
to education, it is nevertheless the first indispensable step towards 
it; and, in a country like India where 93 per cent of the people 
were returned as illiterate even in the census of 1921, the extreme 
urgency of a drive to liquidate adult illiteracy needs no special 
pleading. It is to the credit of Indian Ministers that they took 
the first few steps in this direction. As early as in 1927, there 
were 11,205 schools for adults with an enrolment of 2,90,352. 
But owing to the economic depression and consequent financial 
stringency that set in after 1927, however, the interest in the 
problem again waned and the number of night-schools or adult 
classes declined considerably in the next decade. In 1936-37 
there were only 2,027 schools with an enrolment of 63,637 adults. 
It will be seen, therefore, that, from the quantitative point of 
view, the work done in spreading literacy among adults prior to 
1937 was hardly of any importance. But its ideological signi- 
ficance and utility as spade-work are considerable. It was these 
early attempts, and particulary those made between 1917 and 
1937, which created and maintained public interest in the problem 
and it was in them that the first ideas of compelling the employers 
to make their employees literate, mobilising the spirit of service 
among the students to expand the movement and to reduce its 
cost, roping in local bodies, cooperative societies, and other semi- 
official and non-official agencies to assist in the work, etc., were 
first evolved. These ideas, it would be seen later, were more fully 


exploited by the Congress Ministries when the accepted office in 
1937 and tried to organise mass literacy campaigns. 

Review of the Period (1921-37): We are now in a position to 
take a rapid survey of the principal achievements of Indian 
Ministers in the sixteen years of the diarchical rule (1921-37) in 
the Provinces. In the field of University education, we find (a) 
the consititution of the Inter-University Board, (b) the incorpora- 
tion of five new universities, (c) the democratisation of the older 
universities by substantially increasing the number of elected seats 
on the Senate, (d) large expansion in the number of colleges and 
students, (e) opening of several new faculties, (/) provision of 
several new courses of studies and research, (g) development of 
inter-collegiate and inter-university activities, ( h ) provision for 
military training (although on a small scale) and (i) greater 
attention paid to physical education, health and residence of 
students. In the field of secondary education, we find (a) 
unprecedented expansion of secondary education as a whole, (b) 
great increase in the number of secondary schools in rural areas, 
(c) large expansion in the secondary education of girls, (d) the 
adoption of the mother-tongue as a medium of instruction on a 
very large scale throughout the secondary course, and (e) some 
improvement in the training and service conditions of secondary 
teachers. In primary education, this period witnessed (a) the 
passing of several Acts of primary education, (b) the execution of 
several schemes of compulsion and expansion on a voluntary 
basis, (c) a large increase in the number of schools and pupils 
(although the ideal of universal, compulsory and free primary 
education was far from being reached), and (d) some improvement 
in qualitative aspects. A few attempts, unfortunately sporadic 
and inadequate, were also made to spread literacy among the 
adults. In vocational education, there was a general all-round 
development and a few earnest attempts were made to provide 
the highest type of education in India itself. The recruitment to 
the I.E.S. was discontinued in 1924, a new Provincial (Class I) 
Service was organised instead, and the whole of the Education 
Department was practically Indianised by 1936-37. The Muslims, 
long backward in education, now made up for their deficiencies 
in the past and, in some respects, even marched ahead of the 

362 A students' history op EDUCATION IN INDIA 

other communities. The education of women also made great 
progress and the period witnessed the passing of several laws 
to ameliorate their position, the grant of political privileges to 
them, and the birth of a new leadership in their midst. A 
tremendous drive to banish untouchability was launched in this 
period by Mahatma Gandhi and the Harijans themselves were 
organised politically under the leadership of men like Dr. B. R. 
Ambedkar. Consequently, the official system could substantially 
reduce the Special schools for Harijans (if not abolish them 
altogether) and help in bringing about a great expansion of 
education among the Harijans. These are great achievements, 
indeed, and they appear all the more significant when we 
remember that the Indian Ministers of this period had to work 
against several difficulties such as (a) absence of Central grants, 
(b) general financial stringency, (c) lack of support from the 
.Congress, ( d ) periodical political struggles and the inevitable 
disturbances connected with them, and ( e ) the absence of co- 
operation from the I.E.S. over the greater part of this period. 
This record of achievements definitely gave a lie to the fears of 
those who had opposed the transfer of education of popular 
control in 1921 and strengthened the view of those who had 
expected good results. In fact, they were sufficiently good to 
justify the view that a further transfer of powers was called for 
and that education ought to be completely transferred to Indian 
control without any limitations. This is almost exactly what 
happened in 1937 when Provincial Autonomy was introduced to 
eleven Provinces of British India, and greater (or almost com- 
plete) control over education was given to Indian Ministers. The 
principal events of this new era in educational history will be 
narrated in the next chapter. 

Chapter Ten 

Education Under Provincial Autonomy 
( 1937 - 47 ) 


Provincial Autonomy: The Government of India Act, 1935, 
marked a further step in the onward march of India to complete 
politicaL Jndependence. It put an end to the inherently defective 
diarchical system of administration, abolished the distinction 
between reserved and transferred departments, and placed the 
whole field of Provincial Administration under a Ministry 
responsible to a legislature which had an overwhelming majority 
of elected members. This new system of governance, popularly 

kD0N ^L as Provincial Autonomy" came into operation in 1937 in 
V eleven provinces of British India. 

* WitF~tFe inauguration of Provincial Autonomy, earnest hopes 
of a gre^t educational advance were at once raised. MostTof the 
difficulties which had Tampered the work of the Indian Ministers 
between 1921 and 1937 were no longer there. The world 
economic depression and the consequent financial stringency 
dominated the scene no longer; money had begun to flow in more 
freely and the finance portfolio was no longer held by an Executive 
Councillor who was not amenable to the influence of the Ministers; 
th ? ^E.S. had almost been liquidated and the European officers 
** were now an extremely small minority; and popular 
support was ensured because the Congress which was the most 
influential political organisation in the country had accepted 
office in seven provinces But of eleven and in the remaining four 
provinces also, the ministries had the clear support of the majority 
of the population. It was, therefore, hoped that the new Provin- 
cial Governments working under the Government of India Act, 
1935, would be able to plan educational reconstruction with a 
bolder and a freer hand and execute it with vigour, firmness, and 

Unfortunately, these hopes did not materialise. The first and 


foremost cause of this failure was that the Congress remained in 
power only for a short while. It assumed office for the first time 
in 1937; but within two years, the Second World War broke out 
in September 1939. Differences soon arose betweeiTtEe' Congress 
and the British Government over the question of the war and peace 
aims of the Allies (with special reference to their application to 
India) and the Congress resigned in 1940 after having been in 
office for less than three years. Between 1940 and 1945, the 
“Section-93” or “Caretaker Governments” were in charge. Their 
principar objective was the prosecution of War and hence 
educational reconstruction had more or less to mark time till the 
popular ministries came back again in 1946. The Congress was, 
thereforeT in office a second time for about two years till 
the^ithdrawal of the British Power on 15th August 1947. In 
other words, out of the ten years of Provincial Autonomy, 
popular Governments were in office for only five. Secondly, this 
was a time when politial problems dominated the whole scene 
and educational matters were consequently relegated to a very 
subsidiary position. The year 1937-38 was dominated by disputes 
over the powers reserved to Governors; 1939-40 by discussion oij 
the war and peace aims of the Allies; 1940-45 by the Second 
World War itself and the Quit India Movement; and 1946-47 by 
the preparations for the withdrawal of the British power and the 
partition of India. It will, therefore, be seen that there was hardly 
any time when some political trouble or the other was not on the 
anvil. Thirdly, throughout the whole of this period, the triangular 
fight between the British, the Congress and the Muslim League 
was so intensive and so vital that all other issues were completely 
eclipsed. For all these reasons, it is hardly to be wondered if the 
national leaders could not devote adequate time and money to 
educational reconstruction and if the educational advance under: 
Provincial Autonomy did not at all come up to the high hopes 
aroused in 1937. j 

The achievements of this period can be conveniently studied^ 
under three groups. In the first group, we shall include (a), 
changes introduced in educational administration by the Govern-) 
ment of India Act, 1935; (6) educational activities of the Govern- 
ment of India; and (c) developments in university, secondary, 
primary, and vocational education. In the second group, we shall 4 


study the three most distinctive contributions of the Congress 
Minisjiies, viz., (a) Basic Education, (b) Adult Education 
(including large-scale literacy campaigns), and (c) intensive efforts 
to abol ish untouchability and to spread education among the 
HanjansT In the third group, we shall analyse the various short- 
range^or long-range plans of educational development in India 
which were prepared in this period, viZj the plan prepared by 
(a)irfie National Planning Committee, (irthe All-India Educational 
Conference, and (c)^he Central Advisory Board of Education; 
and also (dfthe Five Year Plans (1947-52) prepared by the Central 
Provincial and State Governments in India. 

Education under the Government of India Act, 1935 : With these 
introductory remarks, we shall now turn to a narrative of the 
main events in the educational history of the decade, 1937-47 
To begin with, it is essential to understand how the position 
of education was affected by the Government of India Act, 1935. 
As stated already, the Act of 1919, made education a subject 
which was “partly all-India, partly reserved, partly transferred 
with limitations, and partly transferred without limitations”. 1 
The Government of India Act, 1935, improved this anomalous 
position considerably and divided all educational activities into 
two categories only — Federal (or Central) and State (or Provincial) 
— as follows: 

(a ) Federal (or Central) Subjects : 

(i) The Imperial Library, Calcutta; the Indian Museum, 
Calcutta; the Imperial War Museum; the Victoria Memorial, 
Calcutta; and any similar institution controlled or financed by 
the Federation; 

( ii ) Education in the Defence forces; 

(iii) The Banaras Hindu University and the Aligarh Muslim 

(iv) Preservation of ancient and historical monuments; 

(v) Archaeology; and 

(vi) Education in Centrally Administered Areas. 

( b ) State (or Provincial) Subjects : 

All matters regarding education other thun those which have 
x p. 609 , supra t , 


«„ leganlAd a. 

State or Provincial subjects. 

dlS *'“ <! ‘ io “ l“IW«n reserved and transferred subject! 
*n7£? W.U. diarchy .ad the education of Anglo-Indians 
B l^ Uro ^ ans ceased to be a reserved subject 

ofESSr* ° f lDdl 'l ACt * 1935 ‘ did noi alt « ^e character 
b ^H?; tra G0Vern “ ent becausc the fed ®»tion contemplated 
therLrl • ” a ^ er,allse tin 1947 - The Central Government, 

the nerL COn r Cd b * rcsponsible t0 Parliament throughout 
die penod under review. In 1946, however, the Educational 

corn™ T n tJ,° f fi the . Central Gov ernment came under nationalist 
hk S ?l St t,me WhCD Pandit JaWa harlal Nehru formed 
fl . "S? ? ab,net - P“ 15th August 1947 it was made a full- 

Fed!rflM m ' St p ry a ° db f aulana Abul Kalam Azad became the first 
Federal Minister of Education. 

Expansion of University Education (1937-47): This period witness- 
a large expansion in University education and the number of 

uniyers ! ties rose from 126,228 (including i 
the figures for universities which are now in Pakistan) in 1936-37 
o jn 1946-47 ( excluding the figures for universitieifwhich 
e now in Pakistan). The table given on the next page shows 
the position of the Indian Universities in 1946-47 and has been 

Commission ^ b3S1S ° f the data given by the Indian Universities 

This large expansion of university education was due to several 
Muses such as general awakening among the people due to the 

SL a t“ d h I Q ^ Ult India Movement, the expansion of secondary 
education, the desire for higher education that was quickly spread- 
ing among women and backward classes, the rapid urbanisation 
brought about by the War, and the liberal donations to education 
81 ^ ei l by the mercantile community or other sections of society 
whicn had made large profits in the war-period. The War also 
increased the need for trained personnel and consequently, 

menT^iS V nivcr . siti * s Commission was appointed by the Central Govem- 
XL l r ,' / t0 re P° rt on several important aspects of university 

education in India. It was presided over by Sir S. Radhakrishnan and its 
in August 1949, is a very valuable documSt “jSs 
With an the major problems of education at the university stage. 


Government came forward with larger grants for the expansion of 
university education, particularly in those branches which were 
connected, directly or indirectly, with war efforts. For these and 
other reasons, this period witnessed an unprecedented expansion 
university education, the founding of several new colleges, opening 
in of many new faculties, establishment of four new universities and 
a substantial increase in the enrolment and activities of the old 
universities and colleges. 

Good as this expansion was, it hardly justified the view, 
which was commonly put forward in certain quarters, that the 
educational system of India had become top-heavy; that a stage 
had already been reached when facilities for higher education 
should be curtailed rather than expanded; and that the money 
thus saved should be devoted to mass education. In fact, the 
Indian Universities Commission, 1949, pointed out that the 
enrolment in our universities was hardly comparable to that in 
most countries of the West 1 and the Sargent Report made the 
following interesting observations: 

/ If on the other hand the total number of University students 
1 is calculated in relation to the total population, it will be found 
j that India is perhaps the most backward of all the principal 
nations of the world in University education. In pre-war 
r Germany, the proportion of students in the Universities to the 
entire population was 1 to 690, in Great Britian 1 to 837, in 
the United States 1 to 225, in Russia 1 to 300, while in India 
it is 1 to 2,206. 

There are 12 Universities in England for a population of 41 
millions. In Canada there are 13 Universities for a population 
of 8J millions, in Australia 6 for a population of 5£ millions. 
In the U.S.A. there are 1,720 institutions for education of a 
University type for a population of 130 millions while in India 
there are 18 Universities for a population of 400 millions. All 
this goes to prove that when India has a proper educational 
system, she will need more University education and not less 
than she has at present. 2 

1 Report, p. 346. 

2 pp. 28-29. 


A more correct judgment would, therefore, be to say, hot that* 
the^ Indian Educational system was top-heavy , but that ft was 
light in its foundations] The necessity and urgency of mbs# 
education is undoubtedly paramount; but even in the field oF 
university education, further expansion is still the need of the day. 

It was also being increasingly realised in this period that'the 
country does not get the full benefit even of the limited accommo- 
dations provided in the universities. This sad result was due to 
two reasons: Firstly, there was hardly any attempt to select 
students for admission to the Universities and any student whb 
could afford to pay the fees was generally able to secure entrance 
to an Arts College at least. Secondly, a large number of gifted 
children were prevented from joining^ the university because they 
were economically handicapped and there was no adequate system 
of scholarships. Our system of higher education, therefore, 
suffered on both the grounds — by admitting a large number of 
unfit students who ought to have been diverted to other pursuits; 
andj>y failing to admit several superior but poor students, who 
.ought to have been admitted. The inherent social injustice and 
waste involved in such a system \fras realised more than ever in 
this period because the Second World War gave a great currency 
socia l justice and equality of educational opportunity 

for all. 

Another and a still more serious defect of university education 
was that, in spite of the increase in total enrolment, the turn-over 
of trained personnel in scientfic, technical, agricultural or pro- 
fessional branches was far from adequate to meet the needs of the 
country. It is true that this defect in the system of university 
education was being continuously stressed since 1902. But it was 
realised more forcibly in this period than in the past, because the 
War and the Post-War Development Plans of the Central and 
Provinical Governments created a situation in which the shortage 
of trained personnel was most acutely felt. 

Secondary Education (1937-47): In the field of secondary educa- 
tion, there were no outstanding developments. Rapid increase in 
schools and pupils characterised this period also, although it has 
to be admitted that the pace of expansion was not what it had 
been in the earlier periods. This increase in its turn, emphasised 


and accentuated the same defects as had already become apparent; 
some attempts to remedy them and to improve the situation were 
made but, as in the earlier periods, they fell far too short of the 
requirements; and, therefore, secondary education in 1946-47 did 
not present a picture which could be said to be better than that 
in 1936-37. If anything, it marked a deterioration due to the 
growing dissatisfaction among secondary teachers and the stress 
of socio-economic forces created by the War. 

(a) Expansion'. The statics of secondary education for 1946-47 
are given below: 









Middle English 







Middle Verna- 
cular Schools 







High Schools 







Total for 1946-47 







Total for 1936-37 







In comparing the statistics of 1936-37 with those of 1946-47, 
allowance will have to be made for the establishment of Pakistan 
whose population was 75 millions as against that of 318 millions 
in India (1941 census). On a population basis, therefore, we 
shall have to assume that, in the Indian Union, there were, in 
1936-37, only about 10,400 secondary schools and about 18.30 
lakhs of pupils (i.e., about four-fifths of the actual number given 
for 1936-37). If these figures are now compared with those of 
1946-47, we find a rise in the number of pupils no doubt; but their 
total number has not been doubled as it was in every preceding 
period. It must be noted that the number of university students 
was almost doubled between 1936-37 and 1946-47 in spite of the 
establishment of Pakistan. The same phenomenon ought to have 

education under provincial autonomy 371 

been seen in secondary education as well. But the above statis- 
tics given enough , room to conclude that the expansion of 
secondary education between 1936-37 and 1946-47 was only 
apderately fast and that its pace fell short of that seen in earlier 

What might be the causes of this slackening of pace? Several 
reasons may be suggested. It may be due to the fact that a 
saturation point is being reached in secondary education and that, 
as most of the children that ought to be in secondary schools are 
already there, the further expansion of secondary education is 
bound to be slow. This argument, however, does not appear 
probable because the existing enrolment of secondary schools in 
India is far below that in other progressive countries of the World. 
Another argument which may be suggested is that fhis restriction 
of numbers might have been due to a process of selection under 
which only those who were fit to receive secondary education were 
admitted to secondary schools. But during the period under 
review, the admission of pupils to secondary schools continued to 
be entirely unselective and every child that sought admission 
eventually got it. The possibility of a selective screening as a 
cause of this slackening of pace must, therefore, be ruled out. 

As we analyse it, only two causes seem to be responsible: the 
first and foremost is the slackening of pace in the expansion of 
primary education— a topic that will be discussed in the next 
section; and the second is the economic situation created by the 
War. The bulk of the children that attend secondary schools 
come from the urban middle class. Unfortunately, it was this 
very stratum of society which was hit extremely hard by the 
rising cost of living on the one hand, and the rising cost of educa- 
tion (due to an increase in fees, rise in the prices of educational 
equipment, etc) on the other. Consequently, the secondary 
education of children from this section of society became more 
contracted than before. Moreover, the children of the poor 
working class also found it more and more difficult to attend 
the secondary schools, partly because of the increasing poverty 
of tbeir families and partly because of the rising cost of secondary 
education. This contraction of opportunities for secondary educa- 
tion in any but upper strata of society resulted in a comparative 
slowing down of the pace of expansion noticeable in this period’, 



In other words, our system of secondary education is now 
functioning as a highly selective process, not on an intellectual 
but on an economic basis. It admits almost all the children fr om 
the richer sections of society, so that a good deal of the availa^ 
accommodation is wasted on pupils not necessarily fitted to 
receive such education. On the other hand, some children of the 
nuddle class are prevented from joining it by economic considera- 
tions and only a few children of the poor class succeed in 
obtaining admission to it, in spite of their being intellectually 
fitted to do so. As in University education, therefore, the 
problem of secondary education is threefold: firstly, there must 
be a large overall expansion of secondary schools comparable to 
that in England or any other progressive country; secondly, the 
provision of free-places and scholarships must be made on a very 
liberal scale to ensure that no superior child able to profit by 
secondary education is prevented from receiving it on grounds of 
poverty; and thirdly, scientific and administratively convenient 
methods of selecting children for secondary schools have to be 
evolved. Unless this screening process is adopted first at the 
secondary stage, it will not be possible to adopt it later on at the 
matriculation level and to improve the position and standard of 
university education as well. 

(*) Medium of Instruction : The problem of the medium of 
instruction received considerable attention during the period 
upder review. The difficulties, real or imaginary, which had 
beset the adoption of modern Indian languages as media of 
instruction at the secondary stage in the earlier period ( 1921 - 37 ) 
pow disappeared almost completely. Text-books of good quality 
were published in sufficient numbers; terminologies began to be 
evolved and made current, and although lacking in uniformity 
and universal acceptance in all parts of India, they paved the 
W.ay for the preparation of common terminologies for use in 
Indian languages; the teachers got gradually used to teaching in 
the mother-tongue and even subjects like algebra, geometry, 
physics, chemistry, or botany began to be taught through the 
Indian languages. By 1947, therefore, it may be said that the 
mother-tongue became the medium of instruction a[tthe secondary 
stage and the only problem that was left unsolved was that of the 
medium of instruction at the university stage. 


(c) Pro vision of Vocational or Alternative Courses: Some 
progress was also noticeable in the provision of alternative or 
vocational courses at the secondary stage- The Provincial 
Governments started technical, commercial or agricultural High 
Schools and also began to give larger grants to private schools 
providing non-literary courses. The War assisted this trend 
considerably. It required a large number of technically trained 
recruits and thus created an increased demand for technical 
education — a demand that led to some diversion of pupils from 
the narrow road leading to the Matriculation. The development 
of Indian industries that took place during the War also helped 
the process. Even after the War the movement was kept going 
and, in the Five Year Plans of educational reconstruction which 
were introduced at the Centre and in all Provinces with effect 
from 1st April 1947, an important place was always assigned to 
the provision of non-literary courses at the secondary stage. On 
the whole, it may be said that some effective measures to provide 
alternative vocational pr pre-vocational courses at the secondary 
stage were taken, for the first time, in the decade between 1937 
and 1947. The progress, however, was slow, partly due to lack 
of funds and partly to lack of trained teachers and even in 
1946-47, the type of High School which prepared the students for 
the Arts and Science Courses of the University still dominated the 

(d) Training of Teachers: Some progress was also achieved in 
the training of secondary teachers. The number of training 
colleges for secondary teachers was considerably increased during 
the period under review, and the number of women teachers 
undergoing training showed an even greater increase. In 1946-47, 
the total output of trained teachers was 2,110 men and 1,307 

Primary Education (1937-47): In the field of primary education 
the epoch-making event of this period was the scheme of Basic 
Education enunciated by Mahatma Gandhi. This will be descri- 
be<Tin ffie”next section. 

The Congress Ministries also paid attention to the problem of / 
extending compulsory primary education. The following table 
$how$ the areas brought under compulsion by 1947-4?; . 



Compulsory Primary Education, 1941-48 

under com- 

Area with 
boys only 
under compulsion 

Area with 
boys and girls 
under compulsion 

•Figures relate to 1946-47. 

If these statistics are compared with those of 1936-37, it will 
be noticed that the bestpro gress was made in Bombay where com- 

areas and in all 

vill ages w jth a population of 1,000 or more. But in other parts 
of India, the progress can only be called poor. When it is 
remembered that the nation was irrevocably committed to the intro- 
duction of compulsory education for boys and girls 1 in the age- 
group of 6 to 14 before 1960-61, it becomes at once evident that 
the progress of compulsory education in the past, if it can be 
called progress at all, was extremely disappointing. A considera- 
ble quickening of the pace at which compulsion would be intro- 
duced had become inevitable. 

\ The other measures adopted by the Congress Ministers for the 
I expansion of primary education included (i) opening of schools in 
| school-less villages; (it) sanctioning additional grants to local 
1 Vide Section 45 of the Constitution of India. 



bodies; (iii) opening additional girls’ schools, where necessary; 
and (tv) sanctioning additional posts of teachers in existing 
schools. But in the absence of a larger scale adoption of com- 
pulsion, the progress of primary education was rather slow as the 
following statistics will show: 

Expansion of Primary Education (1937*47) 


No. of 

No of 

Primary Schools 











1936 37 









It is difficult to compare the statistics of 1946-47 with those of 
1936-37 on account of the establishment of Pakistan. But the 
figures for 1945-46, which are for undivided India, show that there 
was an actual fall in the number of schools (owing to the stress 
of war-conditions) and only a relatively small rise in the number 
of pupils. The expansion of primary education in this decade 
was, therefore, far from satisfactory. 

This is due to the fact that the expansion of primary education 
on a voluntary basis appeared to have reached a saturation 
point in most areas. Any further expansion on a large scale, 
therefore, necessitated compulsion. 1 Another remedy was the 

V*A remarkable confirmation of this view can be had from Bombay. The 
following are the statistics of primary schools and pupils for the Province: 

Year No. of schools No. of scholars 

1936-37 12,901 1,140,299 

1946-47 18,992 1,665,042 

1948-49 , 22,765 2,469,904 

The increase in two years between 1946-47 and 1948-49 is about li times that 
in the ten preceding years. The reason is that compulsory education was 
introduced in several parts of the State in 1947-48. This is convincing proof, if 
proof were needed at all, to show that all talk of “expansion on a voluntary 
basis” was unrealistic and that universal, free, and compulsory education re- 
quired to be introduced with as little delay as possible* 


organistion of a mass literacy campaign on a very large 

From the foregoing account which reveals only a slow progress 
in primary education, it can be easily imagined that the progress 
of literacy would also be correspondingly slow. The census of 
19 ?Zj ave an overall literacy percentage of 12.2 for British India. 
This compares favourably with the literacy percentage of 1931 
(7 per cent) and shows that the literacy rose by 5 per cent in the 
decade 1931-41 whereas the corresponding rise in the decades 
between 1881 and 1931 had been about 4 per cent only. Thus the 
situation may be said to have improved somewhat between 1931 
and 1941; but, on the whole, it has to be admitted that the 
progress of literacy was very slow even during this period. 

There are two comments to be made on this aspect of the 
problem. The first is that the rise in literacy is so slow that it 
cannot be called progress . The goal in mass education, at least 
in the early stages, is universal literacy. Unfortunately, this goal 
is not a fixed point. It was continually receding further, on 
, account of the increase in population. What really matters, there- 
1 fore, is the number of the illiterates in society. That shows the 
distance which yet remains between us and the goal, and especially 
in a backward country like ours, this aspect of the problem is of 
far greater importance than any other. Judged from this point 
of view, the table given on the next page will show what progress 
has been achieved in India during the last decade. 

It will be seen from this table that (a) the number of illiterates 
in 1941 is actually greater than that in 1931; (b) unless the 
rate of increase of literacy is greater than the rate of increase 
of population, we cannot be said to be progressing at all; and 
(c) that unless the rate of increase of literacy exceeds greatly that 
of the increase of population, there is no hope of realising the 
goal of universal literacy in a short time. It is only the introduc- 
tion of universal compulsionThat can achieve and maintain this 

Another Jrend _ of this period was the tendency to accept the 

i re oommendation of the Hartog Committee to the effect that the 

\ power given to local bodies over primary education should be with- 
drawn. The Province of Bombay was the first to act on this 
recommendation. In 1938, and then again in 1947, Primary 

Progress of Illiteracy in India (1931-41) 
(The figures are in thousands) 


Education Acts were passed and the powers given to local 
bodies were very substantially curtailed. 1 

The t hird development of this period was the greater attention 
that came to be paid to the important problem of giving, .a living 
wage to the primary teachers. Unfortunately, the comparative 
statistics of the average pay of primary teachers for all Provinces 
are not given in the Quinquennial Reviews of the Progress of 
Education in India, so that it is not possible to compare periodi- 
cally the relative economic status of primary teachers in the 
different Provinces. But the following comparative figures were 
given by the Hartog Committee 2 for the first time: 

Rs. a. 

Rs. a. 


15 4 


25 8 


47 0 

Bihar and Orissa 

11 5 


8 6 

Central Provinces 

24 8 

United Provinces 

18 8 


14 4 

These figures refer 

presumably to the year 1927. It is 


to ascertain how the Hartog Committee showed that the average { 
pay of a primary teacher in Bombay at Rs. 47! The investigations 
of the Moos-Paranjape Committee showed that the average salary 
of a primary teacher in Bombay was only Rs. 33 in 1922— the 
highest ever reached! 3 Probably, the Committee confused the 
position in Bombay City (where the pay scales have always been 
relatively higher) with that in the Province as a whole. Be that 
as it may, the position of the emoluments of the primary teachers 
in 1936-37 was not materially different from that given above. 
An economic depression began in 1929 and the next two or three 
years saw a cut in salaries. In Bombay, the salaries actually 
deteriorated and in other Provinces, they did not improve. The 
miserably low salaries that the primary teachers received in most 
Provinces in 1936-37 can, therefore, be easily imagined. 

The problem, ever urgent as it was, came to a head with the 
War. The rise in the cost of living was so sharp that the economic 

1 In Mysore, however, a more drastic legislation was put through and all 
powers given to local bodies were withdrawn in 1941. 

* Report , p. 64. 

3 Jbid., p. $• 


plight of teachers became very bad and they started an agitation 
for higher remuneration. The demand got a great fillip in the 
Sargent Report which emphasised the early adoption of a national 
and decent scale of pay to primary teachers. In the atmosphere 
of the times, trade-union methods came to be readily adopted 
and failing to get a satisfactory rise in their pay, the primary 
teachers took recourse to strikes as a means of achieving their 
demands. The first great strike took place in 1946 in the Province 
of Bombay when 45,000 primary teachers struck work for 54 
days. Ultimately, the public conscience was aroused and in every 
Province the scales of primary teachers were revised and they were 
given more liberal dearness allowances than in the past. Towards 
the end of this period, the remuneration of primary teachers, 
therefore, was far better than that in 1936-37 in so far as rupees, 
anaas, paisa are concerned. But unfortunately, the rise in the cost 
of living was so high in the same interval that, in spite of all the 
recent increases in remuneration, the lot of the primary teachers 
was far from happy even in 1946-47. 

Basic Education (1937-47): We have so far dealt with the principal 
events of the period under review classified suitably under certain 
heads, and shall now turn to a detailed discussion of the three 
distinctive contributions of the Congress Ministries to the evolu- 
tion of a national system of education in India, viz., Basic 
Education, Adult Education with special emphasis on the liquida- 
tion of adult illiteracy, and the education ofHarijans with special 
emphasis on the abolition of untouchability. We shall first take 
up the scheme of Basic Education which is undoubtedly the most 
epoch-making event in the history of primary education in 
modern India. 

(a) Announcement of the Scheme by Mahatma Gandhi: When 
the Congress Ministries assumed office in seven provinces, they 
had to face a dilemma. On the one hand, there was a strong 
popular demand for the introduction, in the shortest time possible, 
of universal, free, and compulsory primary education. This was 
a legitimate demand and the Congress itself was irrevocably 
committed to it. But it could not be met unless huge sums of 
money were provided in the budget and it was not easy, if not 
actually impossible, to raise them by fresh taxation. Moreover, 


the position was complicated still further by the decision, under 
a lead given by Mahatma Gandhi, to introduce total prohibition 
as well a step which meant, not only the disappearance of a 
arge and well-established source of revenue, but also the mortga- 
ging of several easily available new sources of taxation to make 
up for ifs loss. It, therefore, appeared, prima facie, that the 
country could have either prohibition or compulsion. But the 
Congress was committed to both; and a way out of this dilemma 
became obvious when Mahatma Gandhi came forward with the 
proposal that the plans of mass education need not be held up for 
want of funds and that universal, compulsory and free primary 
education of seven years could be given to every child if the 
process of schooling could be made self-supporting by imparting 
education through a useful and productive craft. He described 
this new educational process in the following words: 

1. The present system of education does not meet the 
requirements of the country in any shape or form. English, 
having been made the medium of instruction in all the higher 
branches of learning, has created a permanent bar between the 
highly educated few and the uneducated many. It has prevented 
knowledge from percolating to the masses. The excessive 
importance given to English has cast upon the educated class 
a burden which has maimed them mentally for life and made 
them strangers in their own land. Absence of vocational 
training has made the educated class almost unfit for productive 
work and harmed them, physically. Money spent on primary 
education is a waste of expenditure in as much as what little 
is taught is soon forgotten and has little or no value in terms 
of the villages or cities. Such advantage as is gained by the 
existing system of education is not gained by the chief taxpayer, 
llis children getting the least. 

2. The course of primary education should be extended at 
least to seven years and should include the general knowledge 
gained up to the matriculation standard less English and plus a 
substantial vocation. 

? or all-round development of boys and girls all 
trianing should, so far as possible, be given through a profit- 
yielding vocation. In other words, vocations should serve a 


double purpose— to enable the pupil to pay for his tuition 
through the products of his labour and at the same time to 
develop the whole man or woman in him or her, through the 
vocation learnt at school. Land, buildings and equipment are 
not intended to be coveted by the proceeds of the pupil’s labour. 
All the processes of cotton, wool, and silk, commencing from 
gathering, cleaning, ginning (in the case of cotton), carding, 
spinning, dyeing, sizing, warp-making, double twisting, design- 
ing, and weaving, embroidery, tailoring, paper-making, cutting, 
book-binding, cabinet-making, toy-making, gur-making are 
undoubted occupations that can easily be learnt and handled 
without much capital outlay. 

This primary education should equip boys and girls to earn 
their bread by the State guaranteeing employment in the 
vocations learnt or by buying their manufactures at prices 
fixed by the State. 1 

It was these revolutionary proposals which were placed before 
th e pub lic through a series of articles in the Harijan written in 
1937 that later on developed into the Wardha Scheme of Basic 
E3ucatwn. ? 

The peculiar background in which the scheme was first 
enunciated created an impression that Gandhiji put forward the 
scheme in order solely or even primarily to answer the financial 
charges against prohibition. Nothing can be farther from the 
truth. As early as 1902, Gandhiji had tried his idea of Self- 
supporting education on the Tolstoy farm With shoe-making as 
th e^cr aft. We have also shown that he had written about the” 
same idea in the most unambiguous terms as early as in 1921.' 
The question of prohibition was not there on any of these occa- 
sions and it would, therefore, be an historical untruth to say that 
he devised the scheme of Basic Education in 1937 to meet the 
financial difficulties created by his emphasis on prohibition. 
Gandhiji himself tried to clarify the position. He asserted that 
the problem of education was “unfortunately mixed Up with*/ 
the disappearance of drink revenues”. 2 He also pointed out 
that what he discovered in 1937 was not the scheme, but its 

Educational Reconstruction, pp. 52-53. 

% Ibid., p. 3. 


special application to the situation then prevailing in India. He 

I am not surprised at the caution with which he (i.e.. Dr. 
Arundale) approaches the idea of self-supporting education. For 
me it is the crux. My one regret is that what I have seen 
through the glass darkly for the past 40 years, I have begun to 
see now quite clearly under the stress of circumstances. Having 
spoken strongly in 1 920 against the present system of educa- 
tion, and having now got the opportunity of influencing, 
however little it may be, ministers in seven provinces, who 
have been fellow workers and fellow sufferers in the glorious 
struggle for freedom ^of the country, I have felt an irresistible 
call to make good the charge that the present mode of education 
is radically wrong from bottom to top. And what I have been 
struggling to express in these columns very inadequately has 
come upon me like a flash, and the truth of it is daily growing 
upon me. 1 

But these words were often ignored and in the early contro- 
versies on the scheme, its merits or demerits were often dealt with 
along with those of prohibition. By Independence the position 
had considerably improved and the two issues were generally kept 
apart. This was a healthy development as it made a more 
dispassionate evaluation of the scheme possible. 

/(b) Report of the Zakir Hussain Committee : Gandhiji’s articles 
on Basic Education published in the Harijan naturally created a 
storm and violent controversies arose over several aspects of the 
proposals. In particular, the self-supporting aspect of Basic 
Education became the centre of a heated controversy. It was, 
therefore, thought desirable to get the scheme examined by expert 
educationists. The First Conference of National Education was 
accordingly callecTatWardha on 22nd and 23rd Oct ober 1 937, 
to consider the new system of education proposed, by Gandhiji. 
As the Hindustani Talimi Sangh reports: 

The number of delegates was strictly limited to national 
workers, particularly workers in national education from the 
1 Ibid. , p. 7 (Italics ours) 


different provinces. It was also attended by the Education 
Ministers of the seven provinces with Congress majority. The 
proceedings of the conference were brief and businesslike. The 
president himself placed the scheme of national education 
through rural handicrafts, before the conference. The discussions 
were serious and the following four resolutions were passed as 
the result of these discussions: 

(1) That in the opinion of this conference free and compulsory 
education be provided for seven years on a nation-wide 

(2) That the medium of instruction be the mother tongue. 

(3) That the conference endorses the proposal made by 
Mahatma Gandhi that the process of education through- 
out this period should centre round some form of manual 
productive work, and that all the other abilities to be 
developed or training to be given should, as far as 
possible, be integrally related to the central handicraft 
chosen with due regard to the environment of the 

(4) That the conference expects that this system of education 
will be gradually able to cover the remuneration of the 

The conference then appointed a committee under the 
presidentship of Dr. Zakir Hussain to prepare a detailed syllabus 
on the lines of the above resolutions and submit it to the 
chairman of the conference. 1 

Within a short time of two months, the Zakir Hussain Committee 
submitted a detailed report which has since become a fundamental 
document on the Scheme. Gandhiji’s writings on the subject so 
far, as he himself observed, were like the writings of “a layman 
for the lay reader". 2 But the Committee’s report is an address of 
educationists to other educationists. In the course of this report, 
the Committee explained the principles and objectives of the 
scheme in terms of recognised doctrines of education and 
psychology, worked out detailed syllabuses for a number of crafts, 
and made valuable suggestions regarding such important aspects 

1 Seven Years of Work , p. 3. 

* Educational Reconstruction , p. 7. 


of the scheme as the training of teachers, supervision and Examina- 
tion, and administration. It even worked out a few possible 
correlations with the basic craft of spinning and weaving. Its 
report is, therefore, of great importance to a student of Basic 
Education. A few important passages from it are givEn below: 

Craft work in Schools : Modern educational thought is 
practically unanimous in commending the idea of educating 
children through some suitable form of productive work. This 
method is considered to be the most effective approach to the 
problem of providing an integral all-sided education. 

Psychologically, it is desirable, because it relieves the child 
from the tyranny of a purely academic and theoretical instruc- 
tion against which its active nature is always making a healthy 
protest. It balances the intellectual and practical elements of 
experience, and may be made an instrument of educating the 
body and the mind in co-ordination. The child acquires not 
the superficial literacy which implies, often without warrant, a 
capacity to read the printed page, but the far more important 
capacity of using hand and intelligence for some constructive 
purpose. This, if we may be permitted to use the expression, 
is “the literacy of the whole personality”. 

Socially considered, the introduction of such practical 
productive work in education, to be participated in by all the 
children of the nation, will tend to break down the existing 
barriers of prejudice between manual and intellectual workers, 
harmful alike for both. It will also cultivate in the only possible 
way a true sense of the dignity of labour and of human 
solidarity an ethical and moral gain of incalculable significance. 

Economically considered, carried out intelligently and 
efficiently, the scheme will increase the productive capacity of 
our workers and will also enable them to utilize their leisure 

> From the strictly educational point of view greater con- 
creteness and reality can be given to the knowledge acquired by 
children by making some significant craft the basis of education. 
Knowledge will thus become related to life, and its various 
aspects will be correlated with one another. 

Educative Aspect of the Craft : First, the craft or productive 


work chosen should be rich in educative possibilities. It should 
find natural points of correlation with important human 
activities and interests, and should extend into the whole 
content of the school curriculum. Later in the report, in 
making our recommendations on the choice of basic crafts, we 
have given special attention to this point, and we would urge 
all who are in any way concerned with this scheme to bear this 
important consideration in mind. The object of this new 
educational scheme is not primarily the production of craftsmen 
able to practise some craft mechanically, but rather the 
exploitation for educative purposes of the resources implicit in 
craft work. This demands that productive work should not 
only form a part of the school curriculum— its craft side — but 
should also inspire the method of teaching all other subjects. 
Stress should be laid on the principles of cooperative activity, 
planning, accuracy, initiative and individual responsibility in 
learning. ... By merely adding to the curriculum one other 
subject — weaving, spinning, or carpentry — while all other 
subjects are still taught in the traditional way we shall, we are 
convinced, encourage passive assimilation and the division of 
knowledge into unintelligible water-tight compartments, and 
thus defeat the real purpose and spirit of this scheme. 

Ideal of Citizenship Implicit in the Scheme: This scheme is 
designed to produce workers, who will look upon all kinds of 
useful work— including, manual labour, even scavenging— as 
honourable, and who will be both able and willing to stand on 
their own feet. 

Such a close relationship of the work done at school to the 
work of the community will also enable the children to carry 
the outlook and attitudes acquired in the school environment 
into the wider world outside. Thus the new scheme which we 
are advocating will aim at giving the citizens of the future a 
keen sense of personal worth, dignity and efficiency, and will 
strengthen in them the desire for self-improvement and social 
service in a cooperative community. 

Self-supporting Aspect of the Scheme : It seems necessary to 
make a few remarks about the “self-supporting” aspect of the 
scheme, as this has occasioned considerable misunderstanding. 
We wish to make it quite clear that we consider the scheme of 

386 A students’ history of education in INDIA 

basic education outlined by the Wardha Conference and here 
elaborated to be sound in itself. Even if it is not “self- 
supporting” in any sense, it should be' accepted as a matter 
of sound educational policy and as an urgent measure of 
national reconstruction. It is fortunate, however, that this good 
education will also incidentally cover the major portion of its 
running expenses. ... 

Apart from its financial implications, we are of opinion that a 
measurable check will be useful in ensuring thoroughness and 
efficiency in teaching and in the work of the students. Without 
some such check, there is great danger of work becoming slack 
and losing all educative value. This is only too obvious from 
experience of educationists who from time to time have 
introduced “manual training” or other “practical activities” in 
their schools. 

But here we must sound a necessary note of warning. There 
is an obvious danger that in the working of this scheme the 
economic aspect may be stressed at the sacrifice of the cultural 
and educational objectives. Teachers may devote most of their 
attention and energy to extracting the maximum amount of 
labour from children, while neglecting the intellectual, social 
and moral implication and possibilities of craft training. This 
point must be constantly kept in mind in the training of teachers 
as well as in the direction of the work of the supervisory staff 
and must colour all educational activity. 1 

It is worth noting that this Report emphasises, not so much 
the self-supporting aspect of the scheme, as its educational 
aspects. This was a radical and significant departure from the 
view of Gandbiji himself who always regarded self-sufficiency as 
the acid test of his proposals. 

(c) Development of Basic Education between 1937 and 1947 : The 
Report of the Zakir Hussain Committee was submitted in Decem- 
ber 1937. For the next two years or so, things moved very 
swiftly and very favourably. The Haripura Congress blessed the 
scheme (1938) and it was forthwith adopted in several provinces 
where Conjgress was in power and in the state of Kashmir where 
Shri K. G. Saiyidain, who has always been an enthusiatic 
1 Educational Reconstruction , pp. 120-2$ 


supporter of the scheme, was the Director of Education. But the 
War and the consequent resignation of the Congress Ministries 
adversely affected the scheme between 1940 and 1945. As the 
Hindustani Talimi Sangh reports: 

Then came the national movement of 1942-45. This had a 
profound influence on the development of basic education as on 
'all other aspects of national life. Judged by external standards, 
the work suffered. Fifteen out of twenty-one members of the 
Sangh were in jail. Many of the national institutions had to be 
closed. The most notable was the case of basic schools in 
Orissa. The two secretaries and all the teachers were arrested, 
the seven basic schools were closed and the work of basic 
education in Orissa was totally suspended from August 1942 to 
March 1944. 

The work, however, was not discontinued. The experiments 
conducted by the Governments of Bihar, Orissa and the State 
of Kashmir were carried under the direction of their Education 
Departments. 1 A few non-Government institutions also 
continued their work though handicapped by the strain of their 
limited resources. These were the Basic school and the Basic 
training school conducted by the Jamia Millia Islamia, the 
Basic school near Poona conducted by the Tilak Maharashtra 
Vidyapith and the Basic school and the Basic training school at 
Sevagram conducted by the Hindustani Talimi Sangh. There 
were, however, no points of contact between the Government 
and non-Government experiments of basic education. There 
were no meetings, no conferences, where the workers could 
exchange and assess the results of their experience. No literature 
on basic education was published during these years. 2 

With the return of Congress Ministries in 1946, the cause of 
Basic Education received a new impetus. Action began to be 
taken in all Provinces and, even in some .Indian States, to 
introduce Basic Education, if it had not been introduced already, 
and to extend its scope and area of application where it already 
had been introduced. . Basic Education, therefore, figures 

1 Bombay also continued the experiment on these lines, 

* Seven Years of Work t pp. 13-21. 


prominently in all the Five Ye*r Plans of Central, Provincial, and 
State Governments. By 1947, it could be said that Basic Educa- 
tion had come to stay and that it had passed the experimental 
stage in the sense that its fundamental principles were accepted as 
educationally sound, although several details regarding different 
aspects of the scheme such as correlation, curricula, co-ordination 
of different stages, etc., were not worked out as completely and as 
satisfactorily as they ought to have been. 

(d) Basic Education after a Decade of Experience : By 1946-47, 
therefore, Basic Education had been under trial for about 10 
years out of which only in about 4 was the Congress in power. 
It was not, therefore, possible to expect any results beyond a 
preliminary clearing up of the ground and a clarification of ideas. 
Considered from this point of view, it will be evident from the 
foregoing review that Basic Education is not a static but a dynamic 
c 25S*P t w hich, while ^emd@L fliOTJy Jaaotcd in" certain funda- 
mentals^ al so gav e, evidence of its po tentiality for adjustment and 
growth accordin g to the needs of the situation^ ~ It would, there- 
fore, be convenient to gather the threads together and try to 
visualise the form in which Basic Education had emerged after 
a decade of experimentation and discussion. This is best done 
by quoting Shri K. G. Saiyidain who wrote: 

Stated in broad outline, the scheme of Basic National Educa- 
tion formulates the following proposals: 

(1) Free, universal, and compulsory education should be pro- 
vided for all boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14. . . . 

(2) This education should be imparted in the mother-tongue 
of the child and English should not be taught at this stage. . . . 

(3) All education should centre round some basic craft chosen 
with due regard to the capacity of the children and the needs of 
the locality. The committee suggested spinning and weaving, 
card-board and wood work, kitchen, gardening and agriculture 
as obviously suitable crafts. ... 

(4) The selected craft should be so taught and practised that 
it will make children into good craftsmen and enable them to 
produce articles which can be used and which may be sold to 
meet part of the expenditure on the school. ... 

(5) This craft was not to be taught mechanically, but its “why 


and wherefore”, its social and scientific implications, were to 
be studied side by side!. ... 

(6) In this craft-centred education all the subjects to be taught 
were to be integrally related to the selected craft or the child’s 
physical and social environment. Any subject-matter which 
could not be related intelligently to one or the other of these 
three centres was likely to be either unrelated to the child’s 
genuine needs or not important enough and could, therefore, be 
deleted without any harm. . . . 

This fresh approach to the educational problem opens a new 
chapter in Indian educational history. A careful study of the 
scheme and its ideology and objectives, as discussed in the Zakir 
Hussain Committee Report brings out certain points of general 
interest which will repay perusal, because they show the relation- 
ship of educational reorganisation to the wider problem of 
social reconstruction. Thus, for instance, it is obvious that the 
success of such a scheme is bound up with, in fact it imperatively 
demands, a far-reaching social, political, and economic recons- 
truction of the country. That is so, not only because an educa- 
tional venture of this magnitude cannot possibly be put through 
without increasing enormously the wealth of the country through 
industrialisation and a more effective utilisation of its natural 
resources, but also because once education of this kind has 
been provided for this great mass of people they cannot be kept 
in poverty and ill health or exploited by vested interests. They 
will demand, and get, their legitimate economic, social, and , 
cultural rights, and thus “education will prove a long-range in- ' 
vestment, paying its dividends in the shape of happier, healthier 
and more enlightened men and women”. 

Again, the scheme makes a conscious attempt to link up edu- 
cation with the socic-politic al r ealities of life, ifenviSages the 
school not as ,a training ground for certain services and profes- 
sions meant for a small section of the urban population, but as 
an agency for the practical and social education of hundreds of 
millions of the rural population in whose life the central and 
significant factor is work, which is made the centre and medium 
of education, thus breaking down the artificial walls dividing 
the school from life. 

It is inspired in its ideology as well as its methods and contents 

390 a students’ history of EDUCATION IN INDIA 

by a certain- vision of society based on cooperation, truth, non 
violence, and social equality. Mahatma Gandhi was emphatic 
in the view that this Basic Education was not to be regarded as 
just a new technique of teaching^ but as a w ay of lif e which 
t ried to r ealise certain values held as supreme. It is too early 
to assess how far Basic Schools have, in practice, succeeded in 
achieving these objectives, but there is no doubt that, during its 
early stages when the attitude has often been experimental and 
the number of schools limited, these objectives have determined 
to a noticeable extent the pattern of work and activities in Basic 
Schools. 1 

Adult Education (1937-47): The second distinctive contribution 
of the Congress Ministries was the organisation of larggsscale 
campaigns to li quidate adult illiteracy. Their view of this problem 
can be best illustrated by a quotation from the speech of Dr. 

the Education Minister in Bihar, delivered in~his 
capacity as the Chairman of the Adult Education Committee 
appointed by the Central Advisory Board of Education ( 1939 ): 

Gentlemen, we are assembled here to discuss the momentous 
question of educating the millions of our illiterate brethren. I 
need hardly emphasise the importance of Adult Education as a 
foundation on which must be based the development of the 
social, economic and political life of this ancient land of ours. 
As long as the masses remain steeped in illiteracy and ignorance, 
economic and social upbuilding of the nation will remain a 
pious dream. ‘The liquidation of illiteracy,’ in the words of 
Lenin, ‘is not a political problem; it is a condition without which 
it is impossible to speak of politics. An illiterate man is out- 
side of politics, and before he can be brought in he must first 

be taught the alphabet. Without this there can be no politics 

only rumours, gossip, tales, superstitions.’ Realising this, almost 
every province and several States during the past year have 
launched experiments in Adult Education, and the time has now 
came to take stock of the progress made and compare notes 
with a view to formulate plans for the promotion of this great 
movement on a nation-wide basis. 

1 Year-Book of Education (Evans Bros.), 1949, pp. 503-6. 


It is essential that we should keep before us the aims and 
objectives of the Adult Education Movement. In Western coun- 
tries, Adult Education aims at extending and expanding the 
minimum school education received by the labourers and 
farmers; but in a country like India with her extremely iow 
percentage of literacy and her backward socio-economic organi- 
sation the objectives of this movement should be (1) to teach 
the illiterate adult the three R’s, and (2) to impart knowledge 
closely correlated to his working life and give him a grounding 
citizenship. These two aspects are closely inter-connected as 
mere literacy without the broader aspects of education would 
not equip him to lead a better and fuller life and no sound 
adult education is feasible without a minimum of literacy. It 
is essential that these two processes should be carried on simul- 
taneously as to a large extent they are complementary to one 

No Government can make any appreciable headway with its 
schemes for the promotion of the socio-economic welfare of 
its people unless the people are prepared to meet the Govern- 
ment halfway and offer it responsible cooperation. The efforts 
of the Nation-building Departments will succeed and their 
results be maximised only when the people are able to appre- 
ciate intelligently and execute in practice the suggestions made 
by them. This responsible cooperation is only feasible when 
the people possess some amount of education. No Government 
can afford today to be blind to the imperative need ot the 
expansion of primary education; but for the speeding up of the 
tempo of the progress of the education of boys and girls a 
sympathetic atmosphere and the helpful cooperation of the 
parents is an urgent necessity, and this cannot be achieved unless 
and until the parents themselves realise the importance of educa- 
tion. Thus adult education is no less important for the expan- 
sion and completion of our programme of primary education. 1 

Every Province and several States, as Dr. Syed Mahmud has 
observed, took up this problem with zest in 1937-38. But the 
empo of the movement unfortunately died out after the resigna- 
ion of the Congress Ministries in 1940. It was only when the 
Report of the Adult Education Committee (1939), p. 54 


popular Ministries reassumed office in 1946 that the work was 
restarted and some progress was achieved by 1 946-47. 1 

Post-War Development Plans: We have so far dealt with the 
actual achievements of this period. These may be considered to 
be creditable enough in view of the very short time that the 
popular ministries were in office, and the difficulties created by 
War. But the more distinctive feature of this period was not 
actual achievements, but the preparation of plans for reconstruc- 
tion in future. In no earlier period in the history of Indian educa- 
tion was so much time and attention given to the preparation of 
plans for the comprehensive reconstruction of education in general 
and for the development of a national system of education in 
particular. These plans were prepared in both the circles— official 
and non-official— and at both the levels — Central and Pro- 
vincial. Among them, the following plans deserve a special 

(a) All-India Plans 

(0 Plan of educational reconstruction prepared by the 
National Planning Committee; 

(//) Plan of educational reconstruction prepared by the All- 
India Educational Conference; and 
(iii) Plan of Post-War Educational Development in India 
prepared by the Central Advisory Board of Education. 

(b) Individual Government Plans 

(0 Five-year Plan of educational reconstruction prepared by 
the Government of India; 

(»') Five-year Plan of Post-War development prepared by 
all Provincial Governments; and 
(iii) Five-year Plan of Post-War development prepared by 
leading Indian States. 

Of all these plans, the most important was the plan of Post-War 
Educational Development in India prepared by the Central 
Advisory Board of.Education, popularly known as the Sargent 
Plan which we shall now briefly notice. 

1 For details, vide Nurullah and Naik: History of Education in ludia during 
the British Period, pp. 814-24. 


Post-War Plan of Educational Development, 1944: The Central 
Advisory Board of Education had engaged itself, ever since its 
revival in 1935, in examining critically one aspect of Indian 
, education after another. By 1943, therefore, it had reached a 
stage when it could consolidate all its findings and prepare a com- 
pre^Smeplan of educational development in. ludia. This idea 
was given a further impetus by the official drive for planning that 
started at this time. All Governments in India were now required 
to prepare plans of Post-W ar Development pnd, as a part of the 
general scheme, the Central Advisory Board of Education also 
was called upon to prepare a plan of post-war educational develop- 
ment and submit it to the Executive Council of the Governor- 
General for consideration. Accordingly, the Board submitted a 
detailed report on Post-War Educational Development in India, 
commonly known as the Sargent Report^ in 1944. As the first 
officIaPattempt to plan a national system of education for India, 
it deserves a careful study. 

The object of the plan was to create in India, in a period of not 
less than forty years, the same standard of educational attainments 
as had already been admitted in England. With this end in view, 
it provided for 

(a) Pre-Primary education for children between 3 and 6 years 
of age; 

(b) Universal, compulsory, and free Primary or Basic education 
for all children between the ages of 6 and 14, divided into 
the Junior Basic (6-11) and Senior Basic (11-14) stages; 

( c ) High School education for six years for selected children 
between the ages of 11 and 17; 

(d) A university course of three years beginning after the 
Higher Secohdary Examination for selected students; 

(e) Technical, commercial, and art education for full-time and 
part-time students on an adequate scale; 

(/) The liquidation of adult illiteracy and the development of 
public libraries system in about 20 years; 

( g ) Full provision for the proper training of teachers required 
for the implementing and continuation of the scheme; 

(h) The organisation of compulsory physical education, 
medical inspection followed by after treatment, and 



provision of mjlk and midday meals for undernourished 

(») The creation of employment bureaus; 

O') The education of the physically and mentally handicapped 
children; and 

(k) Social and recreational activities on a fairly liberal scale. 

The proposals of the Report on some important problems are 
given below. 

For primary education the Report has adopted the scheme of 
B asic Educati on with some modifications. It says: 

Basic (Primary and Middle) education, as envisaged by the 
' Central Advisory Board, embodies many of the educational 
ideas contained in the Original Wardha Scheme, though it 
differs from it in certain important particulars. The main 
principle of “learning through activity” has been endorsed by 
educationists all over the world. At the lower stages the 
activity will take many forms, leading gradually up to a basic 
craft or crafts suited to local conditions. So far as possible, 
the whole of the curriculum will be harmonised with this general 
conception. The three R’s by themselves can no longer be 
regarded as an adequate equipment for efficient citizenship. 
The Board, however, are unable to endorse the view that 
education at any stage and particularly in the lowest stages can 
or should be expected to pay for itself through the sale of 
articles produced by the pupils. The most which can be 
expected in this respect is that sales should cover the cost of 
the additional materials and equipment required for practical 
work. ... On leaving (the school), the pupil should be prepared 
to take his place in the community as a worker and as a 
future citizen He should also be inspired with the desire to 
continue his education through such means as a national 
system of education may place at his disposal. With this end 
in view, the Senior Basic School should afford the widest 
possible opportunities for those corporate activities including 
physical training and organised games, which are essential to 
supplement the instruction given in the class-room. 1 

“The function of the High School,” says the Report, “is *o 
cater for those children who are well above the average in 
ability.” 1 It will, therefore, only admit pupils selected on the 
basis of “abilities, aptitudes, and general promise”. The selection 
will take place at the age of 11+when the Junior Basic course 
would have been over. The Report estimates that about 20 per 
cent of the children attending Junior Basic schools will be admit- 
ted to High Schools. Every child entering a High School shall 
remain under compulsion until the age of 14+. Even after 
this period, steps are to be taken to see that children are 
not withdrawn from the school before the completion of the 

The High Schools will charge adequate fees. But 50 per cent 
of the pupils will be provided with free studentships or similar 
concessions and poverty shall not be allowed to be a bar to the 
education of sl deserving child. A pupil whb does not happen 
to be selected shall not ordinarily be allowed to enter a High 
School. But “the Board would not object to places being pro- 
vided for such children in the condition that these are in addition 
to those required for children selected on the ground of ability 
and that the parents concerned are required to pay the whole cost 
of the education provided. It would appear inequitable to 
spend public money on providing higher education for those 
who have not shown that they are likely to take full advantage 
of it.” 2 

The aim of High School education is defined by the Report 
in the following words: 

High School education should on no account be considered 
simply as a preliminary to University education, but as a stage 
complete in itself. . . . While it will remain a very important 
function of the High Schools to pass on their most able pupils 
to Universities or other institutions of equivalent standard the 
large majority of High School leavers should receive an 
education that will fit them for direct entry into occupations 
and professions. . . . though a certain percentage of them may 
be expected to require further training for a period of one to 

J p. 18. 

*p. 10. 

396 A students’ history of education IN INDIA 

three years, either full-time or part-time, in order to qualify 
themselves for posts that require special skill. 1 

The reorganised High Schools, according to the Report should 
be of two main types— the Academic and the Technical. 

The Academic High School will impart instruction in the 
Arts and pure Sciences; while the Technical High School will 
provide training in the applied sciences and industrial and 
commercial subjects. In both types the course in the Junior 
departments covering the present Middle stage will be very much 
the same and there will be a common core of the ‘humanities’ 
throughout. Art and Music should form an integral part of the 
curriculum in both and all girls should take a course in domestic 
science. . . .Transfer from one type to the other should be made as 
easy as possible at any rate up to the end of the Junior courses 
... .In smaller centres which can only be served economically by 
single High Schools^ the individual Schools should be required 
to offer as wide a choice of courses as possible. In rural areas 
. . .an agricultural bias should be given to the curriculum. 2 

The medium of instruction in all High Schools should be the 
mother-tongue of the pupils. English should be a compulsory 
second language. 

The list of subjects to be taught in both the types of High 
School is given. The list is suggestive and it is not intended that 
every pupil should be taught all the subjects. Subjects common 
to both the types: (1) The mother-tongue, (2) English, (3) Modern 
languages, (4) History (Indian and World), (5) Geography (Indian 
and World), (6) Mathematics,' (7) Science, (8) Economics, (9) Agri- 
culture, (10) Art, (11) Music, (12) Physical Training. In the 
Academic High School Classical Languages and Civics are added 
to the common list. In the Technical High Schools the Science 
subjects are to be studied more intensively. Technological subjects, 
such as wood and metal work, elementary engineering, measured 
drawing, etc., and commerical subjects, like book-keeping, short- 
hand, typewriting, accountancy, commerical practice, etc., are also 

x p. 20. 

*pp. 20-21. 


to be added to the common list. In the case of girls, among 
other subjects, domestic science should be one of the options. 

The Report points out certain defects in the present state of 
affairs in Indian Universities. The gravest of these is their failure 
to relate their activties sufficiently closely to the practical needs 
of the Community as a whole. There is no systematic attempt 
on their part to adjust the output to the capacity of the employ- 
ment market to absorb it. A great deal too much importance is 
attached to examinations, and the examinations themselves put a 
premium on book learning of a narrow kind at the expense of 
original thinking and real scholarship. In the absence of any 
proper selection beyond what is provided by an admittedly feasy 
matriculation examination, they have opened their doors to many 
students whom a more searching test would have debarred from 
entry. The position is further complicated by the absence of any 
general and liberal arrangements for assisting students of real 
ability who are prevented by poverty from seeking admission to 
Universities. Probably nowhere among the Universities of the 
world is there so large a proportion of failures in examinations 
as in Indian Universities. 

The Report summarises its recommendations on University 
education in the following words: 

Indian Universities, as they exist today, despite many admir- 
able features do not fully satisfy the requirements of a national 
system of education. In order to raise standards all round, 
the conditions of admission must be revised with the object of 
ensuring that all students are capable of taking full advantage 
of a University course. The proposed reorganisation of the 
High School System will facilitate this. Adequate financial 
assistance must be provided for poor students. The present 
Intermediate Course should be abolished. Ultimately the whole 
of this course should be covered in the High School, but as an 
immediate step the first year of the course should be transferred 
to High School and the second to Universities. The minimum 
length of a University Course should be three years (in certain 
subejets longer). The tutorial system should be widely extend- 
ed and closer personal contacts established between teachers 
and students, The importance of establishing a high standard 


in post-graduate studies and particularly in pure and applied 
research should be emphasised. Steps should be taken to im- 
prove the conditions of service, including remuneration of 
University and College Teachers where those now in operation 
are not attracting men and women of the requisite calibre . 1 

Regarding the drafting High School leavers to the University 
Courses, the Report presumes that one in fifteen of them will 
reach the level requisite for entrance to the University. It is also 
contemplated that in order to enable poor but deserving students 
to have University education nearly one-third of the students in 
the Colleges and Universities, will have to be given maintenance 

In respect of T echnical and Vocational Education, the Report 
divides the workers needed by Indian Arts and Industries into 
four categories: 

(a) Chief Executives and Research Workers of the Future'. 
These will normally have their preliminary training in a Technical 
High School and will then pass to the Technological Depart- 
ment of a University or to a full-time Course of the National 
Diploma type in a Technical Institution. The admission to 
these Courses should be the outcome of a very strict process of 
selection. They will not be many. 

(b) Minor Executives, Foremen, Charge Hands, etc.: It is the 
main aim of the Technical High School to satisfy this need; but 
the Technical High School pupil will be required to continue 
his technical education either by taking a National Diploma or 
Certificate Course or by attending part-time classes of a fairly 
advanced description. 

(c) Skilled Craftsmen: These may be recruited from 

Technical High School pupils; but as a rule after passing 
through the Senior Basic School where they will have mastered 
the rudiments of craft work, they will goto Junior Technical 
Trade or Industrial Schools for a further two or three years' 
full-time Course. 

(d) Semi-skilled and Unskilled Labour: They will be recruited 
mostly directly from Senior Basic (Middle) Schools where they 
J pp- 32-33. 


will have done some craft work. It is important to afford; these 
persons’ facilities both for continuing their general education 
and for improving their skill, so that the best to them may 
ultimately ascend to the skilled class. 

It makes adequate provision for the efficient training of all these 
types of workers. Over and above this, the Report points out, 
there is very urgent need in India of what is called the part-time 
system. Part-time day classes (or the sandwich system) constitute 
a factor of great importance in any modern scheme for technics 
education. The students of these classes will be working in 
factories and other industrial or commercial concerns as paid 

workers and they will be given due facilities for improving the 

knowledge and skill required for their daily work. The advantages 
of this part-time system are many. This type of technical 
instruction (part-time) is likely to overlap the sphere of Adult 
Education which will also impart some vocational training. e 
responsible administrative authorities should see to it that no 
overlapping takes place. 

The role of Adult Education, according to the Report, 

is to make every possible member of a State an effective and effi- 
cient citizen and thus to give reality to the ideal of democracy. . . . 
In India, so far the general attitude has been to regard adult 
education as connoting adtilt literacy. The reason is obvious, 
for the problem in this country is vastly different from what it 
is in Western countries. A child must learn to walk before he 
can run; an adult must be literate before he can hope to derive 
any benefit from facilities for education in the wider sense. . . . 
The main emphasis in this country must, for some time to come, 
be on literacy, although from the very beginning some pro- 
vision must be made for adult education proper, so that those 
made literate may have an inducement as well as an opportunity 
to pursue their studies . 1 

The Report makes the following observations regarding thP 
organisation of a programme of Adult Education. 

J P- 4 $- 




The normal age range of education should be 10 plus to 40. 
As far as possible, separate classes should be organised, 
preferably during the day-time, for boys between ten and 
sixteen years, as it is undesirable, from many points of view, to 
mix boys and men in adult classes. It would also be preferable 
to have separate classes for young girls, but the objection to 
mix young girls and women is not so serious as in the case of 
boys and men, and may be easily out-weighed by the factor of 
resources available and other practical consideration. 

In order to make adult instruction interesting and effective, it 
is necessary to make fullest possible use of visual and 
mechanical aids such as pictures, illustrations, artistic and other 
objects, the magic-lantern, the cinema, the gramophone, the 
radio, etc., dancing, particularly folk dancing, music, both vocal 
and instrumental and dramas will also be useful. 

It is necessary to provide numerous and adequate libraries. 
Obviously a very large library system will be necessary in a 
country like India, but with a properly organised scheme of 
circulating libraries and exchange of books the cost need not , 
be prohibitive. 

Although substantial help can be had from voluntary 
organisations, the problem of adult education as a whole is so 
far too vast to be within the capacity of unaided voluntary 
effort. The State must accept the primary responsibility for 
tackling the problem. 

The problem of adult education for women has its own 
difficulties and special efforts will have to be made to overcome 

The enrolment per class of adults should not exceed 25. 

The full working of the scheme cannot be started immediately. 
The first five years must be devoted to planning, to the 
recruitment and training of teachers and to general setting up 
of necessary organisations. 1 

Regarding the recruitment and training of teachers, the Report 
assumes that one teacher will be required for every 30 pupils in 
the Pre-basic and Junior Basic Schools, for every 25 pupils in 
Senior Basic Schools and for every 20 pupils in High Schools. 
2 pp. 48-52. 


The minimum qualification for a teacher is prescribed as the 
completion of the High School Course followed by a training of 
two years in case of teachers in Pre-Basic and Junior Basic. 
Schools and three years in Senior Basic Schools. The non- 
graduate teachers in High Schools are expected to undergo a 
training course of two years and the graduates would receive one 
year’s training. 

For the basis of selection of candidates for teachers’ posts the 
following method followed in some parts of England is suggested. 
“Suitable pupils who wish to become teachers are picked out 
during the last two years of their High School Course. They are 
kept under observation by Heads and Inspectors and are given 
the opportunity of visiting other schools and trying their hand at 
actual teaching. Doubtful cases are sifted by this means. Such 
pupils often receive special stipends.” 1 

In order to attract the proper type of persons to the teaching 
profession, the Report proposes to revise the scales of pay to be 
given to all grades of teachers — particularly to the teacher at the 
primary stage who are paid very low salaries at present. Tenta- 
tively, the Report has proposed new and reasonable scales of pay 
for the consideration of Provincial Governments. 

The financial implications of the scheme of National education 
propounded in the Report are that it would involve a total 
expenditure of Rs. 31,260 lakhs out of which Rs. 27,700 lakhs 
would have to come from public funds. In this connection, the 
following points should be noted: 

(а) The estimates are based on pre-war standards both in regard 
to population and cost of living. 

(б) The cost has been worked out as if a start had to be made 
from the very beginning. The sum then spent on education 
in British India (Rs. 30 crores, out of which Rs. 17| crores 
were from public funds) is to be taken as a reserve towards 
meeting the cost, in part at any rate, of providing for the 
prospective increase in population during the period which 
must elapse before a national scheme is in full operation. 

(c) It is assumed throughout that capital expenditure on school 
sites and buildings will be met out of loans in future. 

J p. 59. 



Provision has been made for interest and sinking fund 
charges only. 

Criticism of the Report : Such is the plan for educational 
reconstruction in India that the Central Advisory Board of 
Education proposed. It has been discussed and criticised from 
many points of view and has provided the basis of a good part 
of the thinking on this issue even after Independence. 

To begin with, we may mention those features of the Report 
which are commendable and which have attracted considerable 
notice and appreciation. These can be best stated in the words 
of Shri K. G. Saiyidain: 

What is the wider significance of this scheme? It is the first 
comprehensive scheme of national education; it does not start 
with the assumption, implicit in all previous Government 
schemes, that India was destined to occupy a position of 
educational inferiority in the comity of nations; it is based on 
the conviction that what other countries have achieved in the 
field of education is well within the competence of this country. 
The mere formulation of such a scheme ensures that no other 
scheme which proposes any half-hearted, piecemeal changes or 
merely tinkers with the idea of expansion can ever be seriously 

Secondly, it is inspired by the desire to provide equality of 
opportunity at different stages of education. At the primary 
stage it envisages not merely the provision of free schooling but 
also of other facilities without which the poorer children cannot 
fully avail themselves of the educational opportunities — midday 
meal, books, scholarships, medical inspection and treatment. 
At higher stages, free places and scholarships are proposed for 
all bright and deserving students. This is by no means that 
full measure of educational equality which an enlightened sense 
of social justice demands, but it is certainly a welcome step 
forward towards that goal and would be a great improvement 
on the existing situation. 

Thirdly, it stresses in clear terms the importance of the 
teaching profession and makes proposals for increasing its 
miserable standard of salaries and poor conditions of service. 


It lays down a minimum national scale of salaries, and provides 
for its adjustment in accordance with the rise in the cost of 
living. This national scale has already been accepted and 
given effect to in many Provinces (with certain modifications, 
not always favourable to teachers), but it has not had as bracing 
and stimulating an effect on the profession as was expected — 
because the rise in prices has been quicker and steeper than 
the rise in salaries. 1 

This is what can be said in favour of the Report. On the other 
hand, its shortcomings were so many and so important that it has 
failed to satisfy many Indian educationists. To begin with, it 
placed a very tame ideal before the country. As the Report itself 
admitted, India would reach the educational standard of the 
England of 1939 in a period of not less than 40 years! In other 
words, even assuming that the plan were fully implemented, the 
India of 1984 would still be nearly 50 years behind England! 
This ideal did not naturally satisfy any ardent educationist. An 
acceptable plan of educational development in India had been 
spread over a much shorter range of time, not exceeding 15 

The main reason for which the Report fixed the period for 
implementing the plan at forty years was the impossibility of 
obtaining the necessary number of qualified and trained teachers 
in a shorter time. The assumption of the Report appeared to be 
that no one should be appointed as a teacher under the scheme 
until he had received the prescribed minimum of general and 
professional education. This was an idealistic concept which has 
hardly any justification in the past experiences of this or any 
other country in the world, not excluding England herself. The 
minimum qualifications mentioned in the Report were accepted 
as ideal, but they could, under no circumstances, be allowed to 
prevent or postpone the expansion of education. It ought to have 
been, as it actually was, possible for India to commence a pro- 
gramme of educational development, just as other countries in the 
world did theirs, with such men as were immediately available 
and simultaneously to work out a programme of improving 
and training the personnel of the teaching profession. If the 
1 Year Book of Education (Evans Brothers), 1949, p. 507. 




requisite number of persons were not forthcoming on a voluntary 
basis, we could not hesitate to conscript educated men and 
women for the purpose. It is already an accepted principle 
that men can ,be conscripted for war. There is no reason 
why they could not be conscripted in a war against ignorance 
and illiteracy. It was also held by many that the programme 
of an eight-year universal education was too ambitious a target 
to aim at in the first instance, and that a shorter period of 
elementary education might be visualised and achieved over a 
shorter period. 

The financial implications of the Report also came in for a 
good deal of comment. The cost of working out the scheme 
would come to about Rs. 313 crores, on the basis of the 
population of India as it was in 1940. If allowance were made for 
the growth of population during the time that would be required 
to implement this scheme, and for the rise in the standard of life 
and cost of living, the total cost of the scheme would be in the 
order of Rs. 1,000 crores per annum! Even assuming that large- 
scale developments in industry and agriculture could be introduced 
and that the standard of income of the people would rise, it 
appeared doubtful if India could afford this huge expenditure. 
It was, therefore, opined that, on financial grounds, the scheme 
is too Utopian to be practicable. 

It was pointed out that the scheme merely described the ideal 
to be reached and does not give a detailed programme of develop- 
ment. A mere statement of the ideal to be reached is a compara- 
tively simple matter in educational planning. It would be equally 
easy for anyone to set up a still higher ideal than the one which 
the scheme has adopted for itself, to work out its financial 
implications and to place it before the country as a plan for 
educational reconstruction. Such an attempt was not enough. 
What was needed was a programme which described, in detail, 
the Various stages through which the country would have to 
march before it reached the goal. This aspect of the problem 
had been entirely ignored in the Report. The only suggestion 
that it made was that, if all the funds required were not available, 
the scheme might be introduced in one area after another. Need- 
less to say, such a programme was not likely to be accepted by 
any intelligent section of the people. 


It has been pointed out that the only ideal held up by the 
Report is that of the educational system of England, while, as a 
matter of fact, . England is the one country which could not very 
well serve as a model to India, because the social, political and 
economic conditions in the two countries are so vastly different. 
If India had to have a model, she could look for it elsewhere in 
eastern countries like China or Egypt or Turkey or in western 
agricultural countries like Denmark or Soviet Russia, all of which 
had many problems similar to those of India, and which have 
been able to achieve splendid results in a very short time. 

To quote but one example, let us see how Russia solved her 
educational problems. In 1914 the Russian Empire had a 
population of about 140 million and the school-going population 
was only 1 million. There were large tracts of the Empire, 
particularly towards the east, in which there was hardly any 
provision for education, and literacy was even less than one per 
cent. There were as many as 200 minority nations speaking over 
150 different languages, some of which had hardly any literature 
and a number were mere dialects without even a script. In spite 
of these tremendous handicaps the Government of Soviet Russia 
was able to achieve surprising results. In a period of about 15 
years, it could raise the literacy of the people to more than 90 
per cent in some parts and to more than 70 per cent in every 
other part of its vast territories. It had to substitute the Latin 
script for the original scripts in several languages and to devise 
new alphabets in the Latin script for more than 40 dialects. It 
has introduced a compulsory course of primary education of 7 
years in every part of its territories. These achievements have 
transformed the position of the Russian people from one of semi- 
barbarism to one of the most powerful civilised nations in the 

Compared with the conditions in Russia in 1914, the conditions 
in India in 1947 were very much better, and what Soviet Russia 
could achieve for her people in a period of about 15 years should 
not have been impossible to achieve in India in the same if, not in 
an even shorter, period. The estimate of the Sargent Report, 
therefore, that a period of not less than 40 years would be 
required for working out the plan did not appear likely to be 
accepted as a practical proposition by the builders of a free India. 



The End of the British Rule (15th August 1947): The foregoing 
review of the educational developments between 1937 and 1947 
will show that its most outstanding feature was the preparation 
of plans for a comprehensive educational reconstruction in India. 
Hitherto, educational policies had been a matter of drift, more or 
less dependent on the chance interest which the heads of adminis- 
tration had shown in it. A Viceroy like Ripon or Curzon would 
create interest in education throughout India and generate a wave 
of reform; an enthusiastic D.P.I. like H. S. Reid, Arnold or Sir 
Alexander Grant would vitalise the whole educational system of 
the Province under his charge. But such men of vision and 
capacity were only few and far between and, on the whole, the 
educational policies in India between 1813 and 1937 were charac- 
teristic of the British genius for “muddling through to success”. 
The idea of a plan, of a prescribed goal to be reached within a 
specified time by the adoption of well-co-ordinated programmes 
was new to the educational system of India and when it was 
officially accepted during this period, the innovation was welcomed 
in all quarters. But the preparation of an agreed plan was not 
an easy matter and it kept Government busy almost till the end 
of the period under review; and hardly had the first steps been 
taken for the implementation of these Plans by the Central and 
Provincial Governments, when the British Power was withdrawn 
from India on 15th August 1947 and the British Period in the 
history of Indian education came to an end. 

Chapter Eleven 

Education in India during the British Period 

A Retrospect 

We have now reached the end of a long journey. Taking our 
stand on 15th August 1947, therefore, we can afford to pause 
and cast our glance backwards in retrospect over the achievements 
and failures of the last two hundred years. Such a retrospect 
of the history can now be carried out more critically and dispas- 
sionately than in the past. So long as the British held the political 
power in India, almost all educational controversies had a political 
biasTThe Englishmen over-rated certain aspects of their contri- 
bution to justify the British Rule in India and attributed the 
shortcomings of their achievements to causes beyond their control. 
Their usual reply to hostile criticism was that it emphasised 
“what was omitted and what is still to do” and ignored “what 
has been accomplished, what has been well done, with what 
means, in face of what difficulties, with what purpose, and with 
what measure, what promise, of success”. 1 On the other hand, 
Indians pointed out the failures of British educational policy in 
India, compared the pace of educational advance in India with 
that in England herself, or in independent Eastern countries (like 
Japan or Turkey), or even with that in the dependencies of other 
nations (like the Philippines) and argued that modern education V 
in India had failed to solve national problems and that its few / 
blessings, such as they were, could hardly be held to compensate 
for the evils of political slavery or economic exploitation. The 
political bias in these views is self-evident and now that the 
prime cause of this bias has ceased to exist, the possibility of an 
impartial and more critical evaluation of educational history 
becomes obvious. Today, the Englishman is as ready to admit 
his mistakes as the Indian is to admit the valuable contributions 
■‘■O’Malley: Modern India and the West, p. 179. 


of England to Indian life and thought; and with this change in 
the roles, we are brought nearer the truth than at any time in the 

Failure to Evolve a National System of Education: The principal 
charge against British educational administration in India is that 
it failed to create a national system of education for the country. 
This is hardly disputed. British responsibility for Indian education 
largely ceased with its transfer to Indian control in 1921; and at 
that time, the official system had not even recognised the concept 
of national' education. But even assuming, for the sake of argu- 
ment, that the Britishers always continued to be indirectly responsi- 
ble for the education of the people, the utmost that they could be 
created with having done was to visualise a national system of 
education for the country and present it to the people in the form 
of the Post-war Plan of Educational Development (1944). This 
Plan, however, is far from satisfactory; and even if it were not so, 
the charge still remains that hardly any action was taken on it 
till 15th August 1947. 

In the years between 1904 when Curzon created the first great 
storm over educational issues and 1937 when Indians obtained 
almost complete control of education, it was the fact of this failure 
that formed a subject of controversy. Official historians went to 
one extreme and put forward tall claims in support of British 
educational policy. Nationalists went to the other extreme and 
declared that British Rule had ruined I n dia culturally and spiri - 
t ually . But these extretfir^are^ now things of the past; thej^cToFt&e 
failure is now readily admitted; and consequently, the attention of 
educationists is directed to ascertaining the reasons for this failure 
so that the mistakes of the past may be avoided in the future. 

Our survey of educational history during the last century and a 
half reveals that the British failure to create a national system of 
education in India was mainly due to the following reasons: 

(a) Failure to Realise the Place of India in the Comity of Nations : 
A national system of education is a means to an end and can only 
be organised as a corollary to the role which one desires the nation 
itself to play. The imperialistic nature of the British power pre- 
vented it from visualising a self-respecting and independent India. 
The missionaries looked upon her as a recruiting ground for 


Christianity; the Company generally regarded her as a field for 
commerce and profits; the Despatch of 1854 referred to her as the 
producer of raw materials or the buyer of the finished products of 
British industries; Curzon considered her as an eternal field for the 
civilising influence of the British administrator; and until the end 
of the Second World War, all declarations of official policy were 
characterised by the same blind refusal to visualise India as a 
sovereign, independent nation with her own unique and valuable 
contribution to make to universal culture. There is obviously no 
room for a national system of education within the four corners 
of such an imperialist political philosophy. 

(b) Failure to Evolve a Synthesis of East and West : Another 
reason for the failure of British educational administration was 
its inability to bring about a proper synthesis between the East 
and the West. The missionaries could not do so because of their 
emphasis on proselytisation, their tendency to regard Christianity 
and Western culture as inseparable allies, and their inability to 
look reverently on ancient Indian traditions and culture. The 
British officials could have done this; but very few of them saw 
the desirability of the step and fewer still could feel their way to 
achieve it. Some were great admirers of Eastern culture, no 
doubt; but more often than not, they lost their sense of proportion 
and glorified the past in the same way as Indian chauvinists did. 
However, it was not these Orientalists who set the tune. Educa- 
tional policies were mostly framed by that large majority of British 
officials who believed, with Kipling, that “East is East and West is 
West; and never the twain shall meet”. Victorian smugness with 
its patronising attitude was particularly bad in this respect. It 
regarded Indians as “lesser breeds without the law”, sneered at 
“Babu English”, tried to classify educated persons as “loyal” and 
disloyal”, put a ban on the admission of Indians to European 
clubs and generally created such an atmosphere of reserve and 
aloofness that a synthesis of cultures became difficult, if not 
impossible. Racial hostilities that arose out of these attitudes 
became worse in an atmosphere of political conflict, with the 
result that most nationalist Indians evolved a defiant and chal- 
lenging, instead of a receptive, attitude to Western culture. On 
the whole, therefore, it may be said that no planned and large- 
scale official attempt to bring about a synthesis of the East and 


the West was made during the period under review. A few indivi- 
duals showed a fine blending of the two cultures in their lives and 
radiated a peculiar sweetness and light around them. A few 
institutions tried to work it out through their educational pro- 
grammes; and these experiments — which were always non-official 
— helped to keep tae concept alive. But they could not be regard- 
ed as a compensation for the non-recognition of the ideal by the 
official system of education. 

C c ) Inadequate Aims : The third reason for the failure of 

British educational administration is the inadequacy of aims 
formulated for it from time to time. Warren Hastings and Dun- 
can mostly desired the political conciliation of those classes of 
society whom the British conquest had deprived of political 
power and influence; the Charter Act of 1813 talked of the revival 
and improvemeht of Oriental literatures and the encouragement 
of ‘‘learned natives”; the Despatch of 1854 spoke of the “diffusion 
of the improved arts, science, philosophy and literature of Europe”; 
the Commission of 1882 did not discuss the issue at all; Curzon 
talked of remedying “the inherent defects of the Indian intellect”; 
and the Resolution of 1913 declared the “formation of character” 
to be the main objective of educational policy. From’ the earliest 
davs, the utilitarian objective of training Indians for employment 
in Government departments was always in the picture, though the 
emphasis placed upon it varied from time to time. The altruistic 
note of training Indians for self-government was also chanted now 
and then. Macaulay and Metcalfe were amongst the earliest of 
those who spoke of it with pride and conviction; Grant was not 
sure of it though he would not have regretted it; but the average 
official was afraid of the probable demand for swaraj that India 
might put forward and tried to postpone the evil day as far as he 
could by all means in his power. Consequently, tr aining for se if- 
government was more a by-product than a delibera t e obfectiv e 
educatiquaL policy. It is of course evident that each 
one of these objectives has a legitimate place of its own. But 
neither singly, nor taken together, do they give a coherent and 
comprehensive definition of the aims worthy of a national system 
of education for India. It is now universally admitted that unless 
an educational system is based upon a clear realisation of the 
“abundant lire” that it should seek to provide, all discussion of 


legislation, codes, memoranda, curricula and examinations mere y 
leads one into wilderness. But the discussion of aims in 
context of life as a whole is the one thing that modem Ration 
in India has always lacked although innumerable officials, co 
mittees, Commissions and Reports have discussed many other 
problems at tiresome length. The first attempt mthis ! “ 

the excellent chapter on the “Aims of University Education winch 
occurs in the Report of the Indian Universities Commission (1949). 
But that was a creation of “free” India and came after the end of 

the British Rule. . , 

Id) Adoption of Wrong Methods-. If the non-formulation of 

adequate aims was one weakness of British educational administra- 
tion? its harmful effect was further enhanced by the adoption 
of certain wrong methods. Foremost of these was the neglect of 
the indigenous system of education which resulted in its almost 
complete extinction by about 1900. Extreme dependence on 
English models, and the attempt to impose upon India a cheap 
imitation of all types of schemes and ideas that were evolved 
England was another wrong step. England is urban, industrialised 
and rich; India is rural, agricultural and poor. This contra t in 
the soeio-econonic background makes England a poor mode for 
India. But the British administrators took it for granted l that 
English model, after a good deal of dilution, was all that Ind 
need ever have. This assumption made them neglect the indigen- 
ous traditions as well as the patterns of those progressive countries 
of the world which are closer to India m the socio-economic 
structure. In fact, one cannot help feeling that Indian education 
has all along been like a Cinderella tied to the apron-strings of 
the Educational System of England- and that precisely, has been 
h tragedy of our educational system. The adoption of the 
Downward Filtration Theory was also a wrong method because 
it gave a temporary set-back in so far as mass education is con- 
cerned The universal use of English as a medium of instruction, 
, the emphasis on its teaching at the secondary and 

the belief that English would become, and continue to be, the 
i nadonaUanguage for the country as a whole, and the eonsequen 
neglect of Modern Indian languages were another group o 
decisions that history has .shown to be unwise. Instances of this 
tTcould be easily multiplied. They all show a failure correctly 


to visualise the situation and to look at things from the Indian 
point of view, Rawlinson is quite right when he concludes that 
the failure of the British Rule in India, in so far as it was a failure, 
was due to a sheer want of imagination. 1 

{e) Failure to Develop India Socially , Economically and 
Politically : Education cannot be planned in a vacuum and 
educational progress is always broadly proportional to the social, 
political and economic advancement of a nation. ^Certain aspects 
of British Rule were inimical to such advancement. For instance, 
the doctrine of religious neutrality was interpreted to mean non- 
interference in all matters of social reforms as well. Conse- 
quently, evils like untouchability, or child-marriages could not be 
fought with the help of State-aid and penal legislation. In these 
matters, therefore, some of the Indian States showed better 
progress than British India itself. It would, however, be difficult 
to blame the British official for his neutral attitude. He could 
probably have done nothing better, especially as it was politically 
expedient for him not to raise a hornet’s nest. But it must also 
be admitted that a doctrine of non-interference in social matters 
is not really a colourless decision. It strengthens materially the 
forces of orthodoxy and to that extent, hinders the progress of 
true education. Similarly, the political dependence of India 
created difficulties in educational progress. In order to create 
a strong feeling of national solidarity, the first objective of 
national education in India ought to have been to bring all the 
different religions, communities and castes in a common demo- 
cratic system of public schools. But politically, the growth of 
such a solidarity was not desirable. Hence no planned and 
vigorous attempts were made to create communal and religious 
harmony; nay, sometimes, the game of “divide and rule” was 
played in too obvious a manner; and the education of the two 
great communities Hindus and Muslims— was allowed to grow 
(or was even planned) in isolation from each other. Thirdly, the 
economic aspects of British Rule were far from happy and it is 
now generally admitted that the poverty of the people increased 
very greatly in the last 150 years. Against such a worsening 
economic background no educational progress is ever possible. 
In other words, the British Rule could not, did not, or would not 
^.G. Rawlinson: The British Achievement in India , p. 241. 


develop the social, political and economic side of Indian life. As 
national education is at once the cause